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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

World headed toward mini ice age?

A report released at the end of January by British climate scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit showed that the Earth’s average temperatures have dropped to the same levels seen back in 1997 before the so-called “big warmup.”

The average global temperature in 2011 was 0.68 degrees above normal. In the previous decade, the average temperature on this planet was 0.81 degrees above normal.

The British scientists agree with many Russian and Japanese climate scientists that the world could be headed toward a mini ice age sometime in the near future.

The new climate study suggests that the next significant cycle of cooling may rival the 70-year period in the mid-1600s that saw “frost fairs” held each winter season in London on the Thames River, which froze solid in January and February.

By contrast, according to the Climatic Research Unit, there are several indicators that “provide overwhelming evidence that the climate has warmed.” Many of these scientists state that the overall trend toward warming is clear despite the many temperature fluctuations.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies points out that Earth’s land and ocean surfaces continue to experience higher temperatures than several decades ago. Nine of the top 10 warmest years in modern meteorological record have occurred since 2000. Last year was the ninth warmest since 1880.

Ironically, subzero temperatures during the past three record cold weeks across much of Europe and Asia have been compared to similar times during the last little ice age, which ended about 1850.

For example, the Czech Republic town of Kvilda on Feb. 4 logged an all-time record low temperature of minus 40 degrees. On the same morning, Graubuenden, Switzerland, plunged to minus 35 degrees, likewise a record low.

The record coldwave pushed all the way south into North Africa. One Saharan outpost reported 16 degrees. This trading station had never seen a minimum temperature below 25 degrees.

The current sunspot maxima cycle is expected to peak in late 2012 and early 2013. As the sun begins to wane in the next couple of years, it will be interesting to see where Earth’s temperatures go. The debate goes on, but only time will tell.

In the near-term, it looks like we will get more rain and snow across the region. The six-week span from March 1 through April 12 may see another 3 to 8 inches of snow at the lower elevations with much heavier totals in the nearby mountains for the skiers and snowboarders.

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Randy Mann at wxmann.
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