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In this paper we will combine various proxies and instrumental readings, i.e.: written documentary sources since the origin of Venice; evidence from visual arts referring to 1709, 1789 and 1791 as well as some pictures taken in 1929 and 2012; finally, instrumental observations since 1716. Of course, all documentary evidence provides insight into pa...

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... addition, large bodies of water were covered with thick ices slabs that could carry heavy weights. At a certain point the thick ice sheet in the North-Eastern side of the Lagoon from Venice to Mestre in the hinterland, along the sides of St. Michael and Murano islands (Fig.2), supported the weight of people, animals, barrels, carts and even wagons. ...
Context 2
... oil on canvas at Ca' Rezzonico and the other similar etchings are of extraordinary relevance for their content. They realistically show the situation, the long line of people with sleighs and food going from Venice to Mestre and vice-versa along the path shown in Fig.2 and the caravan with provisions to the City, already portrayed in Fig.3. ...
Context 3
... The Strengths of Hercules consisted, typically, of two human pyramids facing each other. Each pyramid was formed by people from two main districts of the City in competition. In this paper we will shortly analyze three etchings with human pyramids, i.e. the xylography in Fig. 2, an etching by Giovan Battista Ersego (Fig. 10), kept at the State Archive, and another by Teodoro Viero (Fig. 11), also at the State Archive. The xylography and the two etchings display only one pyramid, probably because it was really very risky to build-up two pyramids at short distance on slippery ice. To be visible, the details of ...

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Citations

... In the eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, written sources go back at least to AD 300, providing insights to past climatic anomalies (Telelis 2008). Nearly contemporaneous textual sources from Venice (Italy) going back to around AD 604 have assisted in establishing past winter severity based on lagoon-freezing phenomena (Camuffo et al. 2017). Records such as these have helped ensure that there is now a substantial volume of known, documentary-based material that details climate anomalies for much of Europe, covering the past several centuries (for syntheses, see Brázdil et al. 2010;Pfister et al. 2018;Rohr et al. 2018). ...
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We introduce the Dutch East India Company ‘day registers’ as one of the world’s longest known pre-19th Century corporate chronicles (1652-1791) containing near-continuous, systematic, non-instrumental daily weather information for Cape Town, southern Africa. This transcript provides the longest known continuous 17 th /18 th Century daily weather record for Africa and the southern hemisphere. An 18- year (1773-1791) climate chronology from this record is presented, thus providing unique insight to the late 18 th Century climate of Cape Town. Extraction of daily weather information for basic statistical analysis includes precipitation, wind, sky conditions, and accounts of storms, drought and floods. From this, we provide monthly and annual number of rain days, a rain index (relative rainfall amount), hot and cold days, and occurrence of storm strength winds. Results show extreme weather and climate variability in Cape Town during the mid- to late 1780s.
... Camuffo et al. [99] worked on the reconstruction of temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea over 500 years through the combination of more and less recent data derived from instrumental observation and historical sources for times that preceded modern scientific measurements. Camuffo et al. [100] could also derive evidence of extremely cold winters in the lagoon of Venice from local documentary sources, including not only archival documents but also the visual arts and early printed books. The most daring proposal has been to derive biological proxy about the past sea levels of the lagoon of Venice, from 1350 to 2014, from early-modern depictions of green algae in Venetian canals, and to integrate them with information about past sea levels inferred from the height of the stairs of historical palaces on the main city canal, the Canal Grande [7]. ...
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... This year expands the tolerance limit of the species, known to tolerate winter temperatures as low as −12 • C [53]. The 1985 event, indeed, remained impressed in climatological and agricultural archives: most olive trees died in orchards in inland areas, and large rivers (e.g., the Arno in Florence) or the Venice Lagoon froze [54]. ...
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... It is known that snowflakes melt when the temperature is above 0°C but, in the case of dry air, the loss of vaporization heat lowers the snowflake temperature that may remain in the ice phase. In Italy, it has been observed that the inflection point to which snowflakes may survive in dynamic equilibrium is around 2.5°C, when the ambient relative humidity is 70-75% (Camuffo 2002a(Camuffo , b, c, 2019Camuffo et al. 2017aCamuffo et al. , b, 2020. Therefore, an analysis of the compatibility between temperature and snowfall was performed. ...
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... Therefore, the perturbed summer weather in the middle of the eighteenth century is a climate signal, being present in both the datasets. The particular cold of the eighteenth century has been confirmed by the long series of Padua and Bologna (Camuffo and Bertolin 2012c;Camuffo et al. 2017a), as well as of Venice, where the lagoon was frozen over with unparalleled frequency (Camuffo et al. 2017b). Both series show a marked warming in the most recent decades. ...
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This paper deals with the earliest meteorological observations in Florence after the Medici Network (1654–1670), i.e., from mid-seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century, and puts them in the context of the history of meteorology in Florence. After the gap caused by the Inquisition, observations started again in the eighteenth century, made by Cipriano Antonino Targioni (1728–1748), Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti (1737–1740), Pietro Gaetano Grifoni (1751–1766), Leonardo Ximenes (1752), and Luca Martini (1756–1772). The first two records were lost, and this paper considers those by Grifoni and Ximenes. The latter is affected by severe bias; the former is of good quality and has been recovered and analyzed. Both the observers made only one reading a day and the metadata are scarce. The paper discusses several issues: the conversion from the apparent solar time to the Central Europe Time; the transformation from a single reading to a daily average; the identification of the thermometric liquid and the scale; the test made with the snow benchmark; the comparison with the contemporary series in Bologna. The comparison of the reconstructed series with other periods, i.e., 1654–1670, 1881–1910, 1961–1990, and 1991–2017, reveals that in mid-eighteenth century the temperature reached the lowest levels, especially in summer, and showed a sudden warming in the most recent decades.
... Harsh winters are documented in visual arts, e.g. landscapes with lakes frozen over in the Netherlands with people walking over them were painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in the 16th century (Sager, 2006;Metzger, 2012); in London, the famous 'River Thames Frost Fairs' started in 1683-84; three were made in the 18th century and one in 1814 (Davis, 1814); the Venice lagoon frozen over (Fig. 14.15) with people, animals, carriages, and dances was represented in several drawings and paintings of the 18th century (Camuffo et al., 2017a). Magnificent baroque palaces built in the middle of the Little Ice Age passed a cold and rainy period, and arrived till today in good conditions, except for those destroyed by fire, war, earthquakes, or other catastrophic events. ...
... These exceptional events have been reported in the local chronicles and annals for the strong impact they had on the population. This paper has used the series of Great Winters over the last millennium from documentary written sources (Camuffo et al., 2017b) that include climate changes on the long time scale. ...
... A particularly interesting example of extreme cold is the series of Great Winters, when the Venice Lagoon is frozen over and the ice slab is so thick that it can load the weight of people (Camuffo, 1987;Camuffo et al., 2017b). All Great Winters are extreme events of well-defined intensity and specific impact on the society, in absolute terms, in accordance with the POT theory. ...
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... An event check was made by considering more than one documentary source (Appendices S1 and S2). For about half of the cases in which more than one documentary source was available, it was also possible to take a cross-check of documentary sources for the most extreme events using all the critical literature published in Camuffo et al. (2017), which reconstructed the freezing of the Venetian lagoon over much of the last two millennia. In about 60% of the cases, it was also possible to contextualize extreme snow events with social, agricultural and religious responses. ...
... For any winter recognized, it is possible to establish a class of severity, based on some specific objective consequences, discernible in the historical documentation. Useful values from documentary evidence are thus obtained by transforming the basic data into ordinal data in the form of a time-series of simple snow indices (based on criteria set out in Camuffo et al., 2017). The creation of annual indices presents, however, a significant challenge, requiring a dynamical understanding of the evidence base in addition to a deep knowledge of the regional climates and familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of each source. ...
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The brevity of the instrumental record limits our understanding of snowfall variability and its directional patterns in the Mediterranean region. Here, we develop a 1,208‐year‐long (800–2017 CE) reconstruction of central Mediterranean snowfall variability based on documentary evidence from Italy. The record suggests that the recent reduction in Italian snowfall intensity is not unprecedented over the past millennium, since comparable patterns of low snowfall intensity also occurred during the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Increased snowfall during the Little Ice Age, however, was most likely associated with a shift of the Atlantic multi‐decadal variability towards negative values, and this overall cold phase further coincided with increased volcanic activity. Our findings on natural snowfall variability over the central Mediterranean in the past millennium provide a unique winter proxy for validating output from climate model simulations. Snow extent and accumulation are critical for water availability in many world areas. Climate variability and change could have important impacts on natural and human systems in snow‐dependent Mediterranean regions. Our 1,208‐year‐long (800–2017 CE) high‐resolution reconstruction of the snowfall events based on documentary evidence from across Italy (like the extended snowfall over Vesuvius occurred in 1776, http://tinyurl.com/lwe2wnj) shows that recent widespread increases in the occurrence of low‐snowfall years are likely not unprecedented in the long‐term record.
... In Bologna, the most severe winters (represented by the January and February average) were 1740, 1766, 1799 and 1813 (Fig. 2, 4th row). In Venice, the Lagoon was frozen over in 1709, 1716, 1740, 1755, 1758, 1776, 1784, 1789and 1799(Camuffo et al. 2017. Differences are explained because the cold spells of the arctic or polar air that form the ice slab last for 2 or 3 weeks and are obscured by a long-term average. ...
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The observations taken in Bologna, Italy, from 1715 to 1815, three times a day, with a number of thermometers (i.e., Stancari air thermometers, Little Florentine thermometer, Florentine stick thermometer and a number of Réaumur spirit and mercury thermometers) some of them operating in parallel, have been recovered and analysed. The early thermometers had unknown scales and temperature units, with deviations due to the bulb shape or the thermometric liquid, but it is possible to interpret them after comparison between parallel readings. Historical sources and the analysis of the data fingerprints and their variability permit recognition of where instruments were located and who the observers were. It is also possible to relate the indoor climate of historical buildings to the outdoor one, and transform indoor readings as they were taken outdoors, expressed in Celsius. The Bologna series has been compared with the contemporary observations in Padua, Venice and Milano. The climate analysis shows that the temperature fluctuated but with an increasing trend. The 1730–1770 decades constituted the coldest period and 1980—today the warmest one. The eighteenth century was generally cold and had an impressive frequency of extremely severe winters that exceeded the rest of the series. The whole dataset (i.e. 1715–2015) of daily temperatures has been included to allow further use for scientific purposes. Finally, the paper provides a methodological example of procedures to recover and analyse early instrumental series.
Book
The environmental history of Venice over the last millennium has been reconstructed from written, pictorial, and architectural documentary sources, used in a synergistic way. The method of transforming a document into an index and then into calibrated numerical values according to an international system of units has been applied in the case of Venice and its geographical and climate peculiarities. Because frost constituted a dramatic challenge for the city, a series of severe winters is well documented: The city was sieged by ice, meaning Venetians had to cross the ice transporting food, beverages, and wood for burning in carts, as recorded in written reports and visual representations. The sea level in the 18th century has been reconstructed based on paintings by Canaletto and Bellotto, who took advantage of a camera obscura to precisely draw the views of the city and its canals.. These paintings accurately represent the green algae belt that corresponds to the level of soaking created by marine waters at high tide. This has made it possible to measure how much the green algae (and therefore the seawater) has risen since the 18th century. Similarly, a painting by Veronese has enabled the reconstruction of sea level rise (SLR) since 1571. Another useful proxy is the water stairs of the Venetian palaces. These were originally built to access boats and are now (almost) totally submerged and covered with algae. As the sea level rose, these steps became submerged underwater. The depth of the lowest step is therefore representative of how much the sea level rose after the stair was built. This proxy has allowed the relative sea level since 1350 to be reconstructed, and an exponential trend in the rising of the sea level has been identified. Venice has at times been flooded by seawater, including tsunamis at the beginning of the second millennium. A long series of sea floods due to storm surges triggered by particular meteorological situations shows that the flooding frequency is related to the exponential SLR. In the 1960s, there was a sharp increase in frequency of flooding, which coincided with the digging of deep and wide canals, excavated to allow the passage of tankers. This increased the exchange of water between the sea and the lagoon. Proxies based on archaeological remains, as well as geological-biological cores extracted from the coastal area and dated with isotopic methods, cover long time periods; the longest record reaching 13 ka BP. However, the time resolution is reduced, thus providing good data for physical geography purposes.