Little Ice Age May Return Soon, Russian Scientists Say

Published February 1, 2007

A gradual decline in global temperatures will begin by 2015, with temperatures bottoming out in Little Ice Age conditions during a 60-year period beginning around 2060, researchers with the Russian Academy of Sciences have concluded.

Their finding contradicts predictions of global warming made in recent years by some climate theorists.

Cooler Through 2100

Basing their conclusions on patterns in solar cycles that have corresponded with past global temperature changes, the Russian scientists conclude the upcoming decade will be the last one of relative warmth until well after the year 2100. They released their findings in an Interfax news release on November 22.

Climatologists generally agree the Little Ice Age lasted from roughly the fourteenth through the nineteenth centuries. The prolonged cold temperatures shortened growing seasons and corresponded with periods of shrinking human populations.

While the upcoming global cooling is not expected to last as long as the prolonged Little Ice Age, conditions could be very similar during the 60 years of the most substantial projected cooling.

“If the Russian research proves to be valid and their anticipated cooling comes to pass, that would mean that carbon dioxide emissions might help protect mankind from the harsh rigors of global cooling,” explained Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

NASA Discovered Warming Link

The suggested link between solar cycles and variations in the Earth’s climate is not a new concept.

In 2003, a NASA-funded study uncovered a correlation between increasing solar output since the end of the nineteenth century and the onset of the Earth’s recent global warming.

The NASA study also discovered the sun has been undergoing a period of particularly strong solar output since the late 1970s, which correlates with warming temperatures after a 30-year global cooling period.

Other Studies Confirm Link

Similar studies reported by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change ( in July 2006 indicated changes in solar output are the primary driver of the twentieth century’s moderate global warming.

According to a CO2Science summary of the studies, “only 15-20% (0.10ºC/0.57ºC) of the observed warming of the 20th century can be attributed to the concomitant rise in the air’s CO2 content.”

“If the Russian researchers are right, it might turn out that the burning of fossil fuels offers us an unintended insurance policy against many of the worst effects of another Little Ice Age,” Lewis noted.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

For more information …

“NASA Study Finds Increasing Solar Trend That Can Change Climate,” Science Daily, March 21, 2003,

“Did Increasing Solar Activity Drive 20th-Century Global Warming?” Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, July 19, 2006,