When the Lagoon Froze Over... Scientists Reconstruct the Coldest Winter on Record

In the winter of 1708-9, Venetian artist Gabriele Bella recorded the hijinks that ensued when the city's lagoon froze over between Venice's northern waterfront of the Fondamente Nuove and the island of San Cristoforo della Pace (which would later be incorporated with the nearby island of San Michele and become the official cemetary of Venice).

Why did it happen? We may soon have a better idea. Slashdot notes that...
"In England they called it the Great Frost, while in France it entered legend as Le Grand Hiver, three months of deadly cold that fell over Europe in 1709 ushering in a year of famine and food riots. Livestock died from cold in their barns, chicken's combs froze and fell off, trees exploded and travelers froze to death on the roads. It was the coldest winter in 500 years with temperatures as much as 7 degrees C below the average for 20th-century Europe. Now as part of the European Union's Millennium Project, Scientists are aiming to reconstruct the past 1000 years of Europe's climate using a combination of direct measurements, proxy indicators of temperature such as tree rings and ice cores, and data gleaned from historical documents."

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