New evidence links solar activity to winter severity in central Europe.
The best climatic reconstructions are compiled at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities. Climatic data from scientific “proxy data,” like ice cores or tree rings, can be refined using weather descriptions in historical evidence written by contemporary observers. The most useful documents for the reconstruction of past climates are often the most simple and the easiest to quantify. In the straightforward weather observations provided in ship logbooks or financial accounts, for example, relationships between weather, its environmental consequences, and human observers are often the clearest. Describing a simple environmental phenomenon with an easily identifiable meteorological cause, easily quantifiable records of river freezing are especially valuable. Used for decades by Dutch scholars, they have recently been applied to a central European context by an international team of researchers under Frank Sirocko of Johannes Gutenberg University. More . . .