Research, Technology

Could climate change lead to a Little Ice Age?

Humanity loves stories about the end of the world.But describing the possible death of civilization, we are overly carried away by science fiction. Today, the word "apocalypse" for fans of the genre is tantamount to an alien invasion or a zombie virus pandemic. Both options seem incredible, so the apocalypse doesn't scare anyone anymore. Indeed, if there is someone intelligent in the Universe, he is unlikely to fly through the endless space for the sake of one tiny planet in a small Galaxy. With the zombie virus, the situation is similar: in theory, it is possible to invent a disease like in The Walking Dead, but this makes no sense - we already have COVID-19. And while we are discussing films and series, civilization is slowly but surely moving towards death. Some researchers even talk about the onset of a new ice age - it turned out that it is warming that can lead to cooling.

Our planet is nearly 4.5 billion years old. During this time there was not one ice age.


  • 1 Change for the worse
  • 2 Ice planet
  • 3 Water temperature
  • 4 Solar activity
  • 5 Sunspots

Change for the worse

Three years ago, few could imagine howthe world will change. The pandemic struck the first blow, the second - the aggravation of military conflicts. Today, the very existence of nuclear weapons is alarming. Agree, this is the situation.

Fuel is added to the fire by a new IPCC report onclimate change. Simply put, we have failed to reduce our carbon footprint. Moreover, we have increased them, and the consequences will be catastrophic. Thus, an increase in the average temperature on the planet can bring a new ice age closer.

This is interesting: What is the ice age and when will it begin

The main problem of global warmingis that all changes come slowly. For this reason, there will be no “Day X” as such, instead we will witness a humanitarian catastrophe against the backdrop of fires, droughts, floods and a cold snap.

Frame from the film "The Day After Tomorrow"

In 2004, a disaster film was released"The Day After Tomorrow", in which part of the land froze due to the stoppage of the Gulf Stream. Of course, The Day After Tomorrow is a fantastic blockbuster, but some of the problems are described in the film quite well. Thus, the results of the studies carried out indicate a serious slowdown of the Gulf Stream, which we recently talked about.

ice planet

Since the climate on Earth has always changed, afterheat is often cold. For example, at the beginning of the 14th century, a cold period led to glaciation in the mountains and the expansion of some areas of sea ice (as well as crop failures, famine and disease throughout Europe). In other words, the usual summer was replaced by a harsh winter, and the rivers simply froze.

Little Ice Age (MLP) — the period of global relative cooling on Earth during the XIV-XIX centuries.

Cause it happened a long time agodidn't have an answer. Scientists attributed the cooling to an increased level of volcanic activity and a decrease in solar activity. Now, researchers at the University of Massachusetts have uncovered new data showing that the temperature of the seas and oceans is critical.

Today the Earth is rapidly losing its ice cover

Surprisingly, the cold snap appears to have been caused by an unusually warm episode.

The rapid rise in sea temperature isa key factor explaining why the temperature on Earth has dropped to its lowest point in 10,000 years. According to researchers in the past, this problem was not noticed.

Water temperature

Meanwhile, in a previously published studyA reconstruction of the sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic was developed about three thousand years ago. The findings revealed a sudden transition from very warm weather conditions at the end of the 13th century to unprecedented cold at the beginning of the 14th century. These changes have taken place in just 20 years.

More on the topic: The glaciers of East Antarctica are disappearing from the face of the Earth. What does it threaten?

Using various sources to obtaindetailed data on sea temperatures, the team found that in the late 13th century there was an anomalous northward transport of warm water that peaked in about 80 years.

As warm water from the tropics flows north along the coast of Northern Europe, it reaches higher latitudes and meets cold Arctic waters, the paper says.

Gulf Stream slows to record highs

During the meeting, the water loses heat and becomesdenser, sinking to the bottom of the ocean. This deep sea formation then travels south along the coast of North America and continues to circulate throughout the world. But at the end of the 13th century, there was more warm water, and the transition of the current to the north led to a rapid loss of Arctic ice.

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As a result of these changes, a hugethe amount of ice turned out to be in the North Atlantic. The extra ice not only cooled the waters, but also diluted their salinity, causing the flow to stop. It was his stop, according to scientists, that caused further cooling. But could something similar happen today?

Solar Activity

According to scientists at the University of Massachusettsin a paper published in the scientific journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the same atmospheric situation occurred shortly before the Little Ice Age. To find out if this is really allowed ... trees.

Comparing the obtained results with new datasolar activity detected using radiocarbon isotopes preserved in tree rings, scientists have found that unusually high solar activity was observed at the end of the 13th century.

Solar activity is one of the main factors in space weather.

Don't Miss: The Sun's Activity Is Decreasing - Instead of Global Warming, Could We Get Cooler?

At the same time, there was lessvolcanic eruptions, which means there was less ash in the air. A "clean" atmosphere meant that the planet was more sensitive to changes in solar energy.

Consequently, the impact of high solar activity on atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic was especially strong,” the authors of the scientific work explain.

But could the Little Ice Age nowcoming today? The authors of the study point to the amount of Arctic sea ice, which is much less today due to the climate crisis. Therefore, an event like the one that occurred at the beginning of the 14th century, associated with the transfer of sea ice, is unlikely.

However, it is necessary to monitor the accumulation of fresh water in the sea north of Alaska, which has increased by 40% over the past two decades. In addition, glaciers are rapidly disappearing.

Cooling on Earth is a common occurrence

But if more fresh water enters the North Atlantic, it could potentially lead to a weakening or collapse AMOC - a system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean that moves warm water from the tropics to Greenland and northern Europe.

This is interesting: 5 of the heaviest snowfalls in modern history

Sun spots

Another possibility of a cold snap comes fromsunspots, more precisely from their number. Since the Sun is in an 11-year hot/low temperature cycle, the unusual solar minimum could be cold, which correlates with cooler temperatures in some parts of the planet.

According to estimates, you and I are at risk of becomingwitnessing a 7% decrease in solar activity and heat. A similar large low occurred around the middle of the 17th century and resulted in the freezing of the River Thames as well as the Baltic Sea. The first "frost fair" on the River Thames in Great Britain took place in 1608 and was held almost annually until 1814.

The Little Ice Age was caused by a global rise in temperatures

The exact timing and intensity of the disasterare being discussed, but available data indicate that the situation will peak around 2050, but could occur as early as 2030. The cooling effect of the big low is only a small part of the warming caused by the growing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

See also: What disasters in 2021 showed the reality of global warming

It turns out that solar activity and stop AMOScould indeed lead to cooling and the Little Ice Age. Fortunately, humanity has 10 years left to reduce the amount of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. But if the situation does not change, you and I will have to watch the slow end of the world, in the hope of, for example, an alien invasion or the fall of the moon.