No, We're Not Headed For A New Ice Age

Read some reports of our changing climate today, and you might be convinced that we're about to enter a mini Ice Age, with decades of plummeting temperatures ahead. Here's why that's a lot of hot air.

Today, the Daily Mail reports that we are "heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames [in London] in the 17th Century".

They cite a report by the Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit about solar cycles. Currently, we should be at a maximum in the solar cycle -- Cycle 24, in fact -- experiencing the most heat the sun can thrown at us. For some reason, we're not: the sun has been a little erratic in the past few years.

The report goes on to explain that there is a 92 per cent chance that the next solar cycle, and those through the next several decades, will be extremely weak. Which, they deduce, means we're headed for a deep chill. That sort of logic isn't new, though. And it's almost certainly incorrect. From Michael Marshall, the environment reporter at New Scientist:

This has happened before, the most famous example being the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715 when the sun became less luminous than normal and hardly any sunspots were seen on its surface. There is plenty of evidence that such "grand minima" cool the Earth: it's one of the more dramatic effects the sun's changing activity can have on our climate.

Sure, the Maunder Minimum itself is widely linked to the Little Ice Age. Newspapers like the Daily Mail love to claim that this is exactly what's going to happen again.

The problem with the argument, however, is that the sun failing to put enough heat out just doesn't make that big an impact on our already-warming planet. It's one factor among many, and a relatively minor one at that. According to New Scientist, in 2010 a team of researcher modelled what would happen if we had a global temperature minimum starting now, and running to 2100. The result? The average global temperature would drop by 0.3C at most.

On the other hand, current estimates for temperature increase due to greenhouse gas emissions are 2-4.5C by 2100. Looking at the two, warming due to greenhouse gasses wins out. In fact, the two results can happily superposed, which means we can say that the smallest change in temperature would then be a 1.7C increase.

This isn't an Ice Age, son. It's just that the heatwave isn't quite as hot as we expected. [Daily Mail, New Scientist]

Image: freshNfunky

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    Best tell that to the planet.. Seeing as how the global temps have steadily fallen since 1997/1998, it would seem that you are merely making that hole in the wall bigger with all that head banging. Interesting that the same source who's data comprises the majority of all the available "proof" of Global Warming, and whose data is vehemently defended by those whose livelihood depends on GW being true, now says the planet is actually cooling, based on over 30,000 observation data points- and their data is now "wrong", and should be ignored.

      Yeah funny that! They just can't help moving the goalposts every time the data doesn't agree with their hypothesis.

      1998 was an anomaly, a record high year. Using that as your base point, and saying temperatures have fallen since then is super misleading. Don't be fooled by that kind of cherry picking, check out the real data yourself from the BOM, CSIRO, NASA, NOAA, etc. and then tell me that there's no trend upwards.

    Wait for it, wait for iiiittttt...

    An cue non-scientist know-it-alls!!

    So you're saying the Starks are wrong?

    So we're back onto the global warming bandwagon again... I thought they changed it to climate change so any change could be accounted to humans running amoke.

      I think you're on the money there, and then they can bring in a carbon tax that doesn't actually stop anything from happening as any "change" is on such a small scale we just need another volcano to erupt again and we're set back a couple years of tree planting anyways.

      Actually it's not a conspiracy, not need for tin hats just yet :)
      The word "climate" is just a broader term than "temerature", it includes other factors like rainfall, winds, etc. Both the terms "climate change" and "global warming" have been in use for many decades, and continue to be used, there's no trickery going on there. The scientific consensus is that warming is happening.

    You are completely missing the oceans heat conveyor. It is what triggers most ice ages not the sun. The hotter the planet gets from global warming, the more ice melts, which will cause the heat conveyor to cool, which in turn will cause another ice age. This is a widely accepted and proven fact!
    @ Lachlan Bromage
    you don't have to be a non-scientist know-it-all, just read a book or even watch the discovery channel, hell read a comic, at least you can learn comprehension in those!!

      that or try experimentation.
      Stick your hand in a bucket of ice, then later add some water then stick you hand in the bucket again. which causes frost bite quicker ?

    Those temperatures are averages, so could be more extreme in places than 0.3c, and with the rise in temp causing thermal expansion in the oceans which will have a knock on effect on increasing precipitation and cloud cover in turn could reflect the sun rays cooling the earth and the precipitation falling as snow would increase the albedo reflecting more sunlight... Causing a ice age.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now