'Mini Ice Age' is just 15 years away, say scientists

New study claims to have cracked predicting solar cycles

Scientists Predict 'Mini Ice Age' Will Hit In 15 Years
In just a few years we may all need to wrap up in extra warm clothing.

Scientists have warned that the Earth is just 15 years away from experiencing a 'mini ice age' - something that hasn't happened in 300 years.

Temperatures could drop enough to freeze the river Thames in London, which is what happened the last time a mini ice age hit between 1645-1715.

Researchers in the UK created a new model of the Sun's solar cycles that allowed them to make extremely accurate predictions of changes in solar activity.

Solar cycles typically last about 11 years, and during that time the magnetic south and north poles flip. It looks a lot like a heart beat when graphed out.

We are currently in cycle 24. Scientists say that the Sun's magnetic waves will become offset in cycle 25, which peaks in 2022.

Then, in cycle 26, the model shows the Sun's solar activity will plummet by around 60 per cent between 2030 and 2040 causing what will essentially be a 'mini ice age'.

'Maunder minimum'

Professor Valentina Zharkova and a team of solar scientists presented the new solar model at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales.

She said: "In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other – peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun.

"Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other. We predict that this will lead to the properties of a 'Maunder minimum.'"

The Maunder minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time.

It caused the Thames to freeze over, and 'frost fairs' became popular.