Earth could enter a "mini ice age" within the next 30 years or so, according to scientists.
By 2030, temperatures could reach such low levels that the River Thames in England will freeze during winter, similar to what happened during the last little ice age, which spanned from the 13th to the 17th century.
Temperatures will start plummeting as soon as 2021, according to the scientists' predictions, basing them off a mathematical model of the sun's magnetic energy. Once this occurs, a phenomenon called the "Maunder minimum" will start and possibly lead to the next mini ice age on our dear Earth.
Professor Valentina Zharkova at Northumbria University led a team of scientists to predict the movements of two magnetic waves produced by the sun. They claim that the rapidly decreasing magnetic waves for three solar cycles will start in 2021 and will last for 33 years, and could thus start the plight of a mini ice age.
The possibility is terrifying. But there's one silver lining to it. The scientist say that suppose it does occur, the mini ice age may be able to reverse the effects of global warming and give humans time to reconsider their habits that are polluting the Earth.
"I hope global warming will be overridden by this effect, giving humankind and the Earth 30 years to sort out our pollution," Zharkova said.
Why A Mini Ice Age Might Occur
The sun in our solar system follows cycles of approximately 11 years, reaching a solar maximum and then a minimum. During a maximum, it gives off more heat. During a minimum it gives off less because of decreased magnetic waves. The sun is currently at a solar maximum, but it'll enter a solar minimum in 2021, the year scientists predict a mini ice age could start.
The next three cycles will have a massive decrease in magnetic waves, according to the scientists, and any point between that period a mini ice age could happen. Global warming could be halted during this time, but once the next solar maximum begins in 2050s, global warming will continue on, and perhaps even become worse than its previous state if humans don't intervene.
Zharkova said that by that time, people would have to be prepared for the impending solar activity.
30 Years Is Not Long Enough
While 30 years is a long time for people to come to their senses and act accordingly so as to alleviate the effects of global warming, it's not quite long enough in the grand scheme of things. Modern society would simply have to make significant and sweeping adjustments to lead a more sustainable life, especially if they want to preserve Earth for generations to come. A mini ice age may just be the change our planet needs.