The sun is cooling down – What does this mean for New Jersey?

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Scientists say that over the next few decades, the sun will be cooling down.

A little over 300 years ago, the Earth underwent a rapid cooldown now called the “Little Ice Age.” Temperatures were so cold that the New York Harbor froze, allowing people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island.

Dr. Anthony Broccoli at Rutgers Atmospheric Science explains what happened.

“The sun undergoes a cycle roughly every 11 years, where the number of sunspots on the sun's surface goes up during the solar maximum, and down during the solar minimum,” he says.

Broccoli says that the event that caused the “Little Ice Age” was the lowest solar minimum in 400 years. He says that scientists now believe that Earth is entering a similar event – one that could last for decades.

Earth’s temperatures are currently going up. But is it possible that this solar minimum could reverse the effects of climate change?

“The total effect on the Earth’s temperature might be about 3/10s of a degree, compared to the effects of increasing carbon dioxide, which has had the Earth warming by about 2/10s of a degree each decade,” Broccoli says.

Data from NASA shows that even with a decrease in energy from the sun, the temperature is still going up, and that trend has only increased since the 1980s.

So, what will stop climate change?

“Developing things like solar, wind and nuclear, which can generate electricity without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere can be part of the answer as well,” Broccoli says.

It was not just the sun that cooled the earth during the “Little Ice Age. Several volcanoes erupted during the Medieval period, contributing to the change.

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