Ice Age: back to 18th century?

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In the near future the mankind will face a new ice age not a global warming. That is the forecast which has been made by Habibullo Abdussamatov, the head of Space research laboratory at the Saint Petersburg-based Pulkovo Observatory, who is a well known global warming skeptic. According to him the coming cold will be caused by a decline in solar activity. Last time our planet experienced it in mid-17th century until the early 18th century. Nevertheless most of the climate experts including the colleagues of Abdusamatov do not support his theory.

How about frozen rivers Thames, Seine and Rhine and Russian vast lands covered with ice and a meter thick layer of snow? After the extremely cold weather of the current winter nobody likes this idea. But Abdusamatov is confident that people should get ready for a new cold era, which may become the fifth Little Ice Age in the last nine centuries. The situation in the mid 21st century will be similar to the Maunder Minimum which lasted from 1645 to 1715. Then the population of the northern countries drastically declined due to cold weather, hunger and migration.

Abdusamatov based his forecast on observations of solar activity. Scientists usually distinguish 200-year long and 11 year long periods in the activity of the Sun.  Now, according to Abdusamatov, the amount of solar radiation hitting the Earth is constantly decreasing. It is the solar energy accumulated by the Sea which still keeps our planet warm. But after 2014, the astronomer says, mankind will feel the decrease in temperatures and by approximately 2055 (plus or minus 11 years) the amount of solar radiation hitting the Earth will reach its minimum.

What about the theory of global warming, which prevails today?  Abdusamatov says that it is not scientifically grounded. However, Abdusamatov’s forecasts fail to find support among his colleagues either. Some of them even wanted to overturn his theory by publishing an article in a special scientific magazine aimed at the disclosure of false theories. According to Deputy Head of the Pulkovo observatory Yury Nagovitsyn this would be too radical. But he also said that mass media should be careful with this theory.

"Solar activity is one of the most complicated scientific issues. And suddenly someone, who has never studied climate before, starts making statements. I want to stress that this theory is neither the official theory of the Pulkovo observatory nor of the Commission on Climate Changes Studies at St. Petersburg Research Center."    
Indeed, forecasting climatic changes is a very complicated task in itself. Such forecasts don’t often turn out to be right especially if it comes to such a little-studied phenomenon as solar activity, the expert on climate studies at the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yury Shmakin says.

"In fact nobody knows the answer. At present we do not see any signs of the coming cold, while a sustainable warming is underway. We cannot predict the Sun’s behavior. Here is an interesting fact – for centuries astronomers had studied the 11 year cycle of solar activity and suddenly, in 2007, that cycle stopped.  2007 was the year of minimal solar activity and after that it was expected to start growing again within a new 11-year cycle but it did not. Nobody knows why."

As for Abdusamatov he has a good response to the objections of his colleagues – in the beginning all brilliant theories were rejected by scientific communities. The astronomer claims that his theory is keeps gaining more and more supporters all over the world and he strongly recommends that residents of northern countries stock up on firewood.


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