NASHIK: The fewer sunspot activities on the Sun witnessed since the last two solar cycles might lead to a “mini ice age-like situation” in coming years, Shrinivas Aundhkar, the director of Mahatma Gandhi Mission, Centre for Astronomy and Space Technology, Nanded, said here on Tuesday.
“The sunspots that can be seen on the Sun have comparatively less temperature compared to other surfaces on it (Sun),” he said while addressing a gathering for a lecture, Get Ready for Little Ice Age, held as part of the Narendra Dabholkar lecture series.
Aundhkar, who has worked with scientists across the world on Sun-Earth connection, said, “The Sun undergoes two cycles that are described as maximum and minimum. The activity alternates every 11 years, and the period is termed as one solar cycle. At present, the Sun is undergoing the minimum phase, reducing global temperatures.”
He said winter temperatures have dropped in the northern polar cap and is leading to severe winters. “This has also triggered the jet stream, which is active in the northern parts of the globe to shift in inter tropical climate zone like India. As a result, cold wind conditions were witnessed during the last two years. The unseasonal hailstorms in November and December are a result of the influence of the jet stream. This has also led to steady weakening of magnetic energy of the Sun, leading to mini ice age like situation,” he said.
“The Sun, our energy source, goes through phases of violent (maximum phase) and quiet (minimum phase) activity every 11 years, which is called one solar cycle. The effects of minimum activity of a solar cycle are seen for about a year. However, it has been revealed that the minimum activity was seen for more than four years in the recently concluded solar cycle. Thus, it was the longest and quietest minimum phase in the past 100 years,” the scientist said.
“The Earth may be heading towards a mini-ice age period, which is similar to what was observed in the 17th century. During the time, the sunspots on the Sun were absent. This led to a drop in northern hemisphere temperature by 2-3 degrees. The current scenario is almost same. Such climatic conditions might affect the agricultural pattern and health and trigger disasters in the worst scenario,” he added.