The sun is powerful and consistent; everyday it shines down on us. At present, however, the sun is going into a less active phase called a solar minimum.
There is no need to panic though. While many claim that this could be the start of a new ice age, or a “mini ice age” at the least, NASA says this will not happen.
The Sun goes through regular cycles of high & low activity. This cycle affects the frequency of space weather events, but it doesn’t have a major effect on Earth’s climate — even an extended minimum wouldn’t have a significant effect on global temperature. https://t.co/t2Fw58ZBVt
— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) May 18, 2020
According to NASA Climate Change the sun goes through various phases and changes in energy output. They explained that some of these changes happen over an 11-year period of peak (many sunspots) and low activity (fewer sunspots and energy – solar minimum). These are relatively predictable.
“But every so often, the Sun becomes quieter, experiencing much fewer sunspots and giving off less energy. This is called a “Grand Solar Minimum,” and the last time this happened, it coincided with a period called the “Little Ice Age” (a period of extremely low solar activity from approximately AD 1650 to 1715 in the Northern Hemisphere, when a combination of cooling from volcanic aerosols and low solar activity produced lower surface temperatures),” NASA Climate Change explained.
Some solar scientists think that we may go into a Grand Solar Minimum in the coming years. NASA Climate Change assured that even this won’t result in another ice age.
“The warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from the human burning of fossil fuels is six times greater than the possible decades-long cooling from a prolonged Grand Solar Minimum,” they said.
“Even if a Grand Solar Minimum were to last a century, global temperatures would continue to warm. Because more factors than just variations in the Sun’s output change global temperatures on Earth, the most dominant of those today being the warming coming from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.”
Scientists knew of the solar minimum before it was here, of course. In 2017, NASA Science explained explained solar minimum in detail in a blog post and said that “sunspot counts were relatively high in 2014, and now they are sliding toward a low point expected in 2019-2020.”