Scientists predicted that nearly a decade and a half from now, changes in the Earth's sun will cause a 'Mini Ice- Age' to hit the planet.
Researchers at the Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK used a new model projecting the irregularities in the solar cycle of the sun to come up with an accurate prediction based on the sun's 11-year heartbeat.
"We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun's interior," said Professor Valentina Zharkova from Northumbria, who led the research.
Zharkova added that the two layers both have a slightly different frequency of about 11 years. Fluctuation occurs between the sun's northern and southern hemispheres, and combining the two waves and comparing them with current data helped the researchers arrive at a 97 percent accurate prediction.
The team found that solar activity will fall by approximately 60 percent in 2030. Similar to the 'mini ice age' that occurred in 1645, a decline in solar activity will result in much colder temperatures.
The sunspot cycle, which normally lasts for 11 years, fosters changes in the number of sunspots from minimum to maximum. Sunspot numbers are low during solar minimum and high during solar maximum. The sunspots play a key role in emitting solar energy towards the earth and the rest of the solar system.
The Earth has been experiencing higher temperatures, since the sunspot cycle is at its maximum. This 25th solar cycle will reach its peak some time in 2020, where the number of sunspots will reach its minimum.
From 2030 to 2040, the 26th cycle will take over. Zharkova's team predicted a reduction in the sun's activity in that sunspots will reach their minimum. Zharkova added that during this cycle, the pair of waves mirrors each other. They peak at the same time, but in opposite hemispheres. This disruptive interaction will offset the two waves, resulting in the properties of a Maunder Minimum.
In the late 1600s, the same conditions took effect when a mini ice caused the River Thames to remain frozen for about seven weeks.
Zharkova and her team used the 'principal component analysis' technique on magnetic field observations from the Wilcox Scholar Observatory in California. They based their predictions on observations made on solar cycles from 1976 to 2008. Findings of the study were presented by Zharkova at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, July 9.