Cold winters in the lowlands

Away from the mountains, most winters were very cold. Olive trees in the south of France were killed by frost during the latter part of the 16th century and there were seven winters when the River Rhône froze solid.

Further north, in Flanders (now Belgium), the bitterly cold winters of the middle 16th century stimulated the introduction of a new style in landscape painting. Pieter Brueghel the Elder (c. 1525-69) painted "Hunters in the snow" in February 1565, depicting the first winter in which the countryside remained covered in snow for an extended time. In other paintings completed around the same time, Brueghel revealed the vulnerability of the poor to the harsh winter weather that was becoming increasingly common.

There was a slight recovery during the 16th century, but temperatures plummeted toward the end of the century. The coldest part of the Little Ice Age occurred between about 1690 and 1710—the Maunder Minimum (see "Edmund Walter Maunder and the unreliable Sun" on pages 70-78). During this period, some of the small lochs in the Highlands of Scotland had ice around them throughout the year and there was permanent snow on the tops of the Cairngorm Mountains. This suggests that temperatures were 2.7-3.6°F (1.5-2.0°C) lower than the 20th-century average.

European settlers establishing colonies in North America suffered from the severity of the winters. Many people—Native Americans as well as settlers—died from cold during the winter of 1607-8 and there was severe frost at Jamestown, Virginia.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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