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‘Sleeping’ sun could cause devastating new ‘mini’ ice age in Europe

London, Jan 20 (): The Sun’s activity is at its lowest for 100 years, scientists said and have warned that the recent slowdown of activity in sun could cause a new mini ice age, just like 17th century’s Maunder Minimum, in European countries, when a mini ice age hit freezing London’s River Thames.

Richard Harrison, space physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire said in his 30 year career, he had not seen anything like it and he fears the temperatures could drop so low the Thames might freeze over. Harrison said to see when the Sun was this inactive, one has to go back about 100 years.

The researcher believes the solar lull could cause major changes, and said there is a 20% chance it could lead to ‘major changes’ in temperatures. They say the conditions are eerily similar to those before the Maunder Minimum. Historical records reveal that sunspots virtually disappeared during this time.

Dr Lucie Green, from University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory stated that the drop off in the activity of the sun had taken him and many other solar scientists by surprise. He said that there was a very strong hint that the Sun was acting in the same way as it did in the run-up to the Maunder Minimum.

Mike Lockwood, professor of space environment physics, from the University of Reading, considers there is also a significant chance that the Sun could become increasingly quiet. An analysis of ice-cores, which holds a long-term record of solar activity, suggests the decline in activity is the fastest that has been seen in 10,000 years.

But what is particularly strange about the low level of activity of the Sun is that the star is presently at its solar maximum, a point in an 11-year cycle where it is believed to be at its most active. The sudden low level of activity of the Sun has really left scientists stumped.

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