Studying Old Masters Understand Global Warming

David Adam in the Guardian writes of a study that blends art and science: A team at the National Observatory of Athens is using the works of old masters to work out the amount of natural pollution spewed into the skies by eruptions such as Mount Krakatoa in 1883. Reports from the time describe stunning sunsets for several years afterwards, as the retreating light was scattered by reflective particles thrown high into the atmosphere. By studying the colour of sunsets painted before and after such eruptions, the researchers say they can calculate the amount of material in the sky at the time.

Christos Zerefos, who led the research, said: "We're taking advantage of the attitudes of famous painters to portray real scenes they were looking at. This is the first attempt to analyse this old art in a scientific way, and tells the story of how our climate has varied naturally in the past." ::Guardian

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