Freezing weather and famine is being forecasted by the geo scientists as they are experiencing a phenomenon named solar minimum. As almost every country on Earth is on lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The sun, however, is also having a lockdown of its own or is aptly called ‘solar minimum.’
The sun has recently been observed to be in a period of “solar minimum,” which means solar activity has dropped significantly. This year, the sun has no recorded activity of 76 percent of the time.
Last year, the sun was blank 77 percent of the time, a rate unprecedented in the Space Age. These two consecutive periods of record-setting spotlessness adds up to a deeper solar minimum.
Experts recently observed that sunspots have virtually disappeared, and this could indicate that we are about to enter the most profound period of sunshine “recession” ever recorded.
As Astronomer Dr. Tony Philipps puts it, “Solar Minimum is underway, and it is a deep one.” Phillips further explained the changes in sunspot count over the past century.
Sunspot counts are suggesting it is one of the deepest of the past century. The sun’s magnetic field has become weak, allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system.
He later explained that an excessive amount of cosmic rays poses a health threat to astronomers and polar air travelers. This excess amount could also trigger lightning, making it more than a health threat.
Dalton Minimum or the Modern minimum is the period that occurred between 1790 and 1830 when the sunspot count and solar activity were reduced. It was a period associated with lower-than-average global temperatures. The said period was marked with freezing weather, crop loss, famine, and significant volcanic eruptions.
Temperatures dropped by up to 2 degrees Celsius for over 20 years, causing a disruption of the world’s food production, leading to famine. Food riots and starvation spread all over Europe.In the 17th and 18th centuries, the temperature fell so low that the River Thames froze over, lightning storms lit up the skies. In 1816, it was recorded to have snowed in July. It was also the period called the ‘Year without Summer’ or eighteen hundred and froze to death”.
In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted and was dubbed as the second-largest volcanic eruption in 2,000 years, claiming at least 71,000 lives.
Should we be alarmed?
Scientists recently observed 50 sunspots, compared to 40,000 to 50,000 that usually happens in regular activity. According to Jeff Knight, a Met Office scientist, solar minimum does affect: it contributes to slightly colder winters. He pointed out that the last minimum in 2008 and 2010 coincided with some more chilled than usual winters in the UK.
Solar minimum can also cause the explosion of “sprites” or the orange and red lights that appears during thunderstorms, the triggering of lightning storms, and the appearance of Northern and Southern Lights in its not so usual places.
According to Mather Owens, a professor of space physics at Reading University, history is not about to repeat itself. Owens said, “although the solar minimum is ‘fairly deep,’ let us not worry ourselves about getting into mini ice-age very soon.”
Owens assured that “solar minimum happens every 11 years, so it is a fairly regular occurrence.” He noted that the last solar minimum was in 2009-2010, which was supposed to be deepest for 100 years, but luckily for us, we did not die.