Old Masters’ Paintings Hide Clues to a Past Climate


In a study, researchers from Greece and Germany analyzed 124 sunsets painted by European artists between 1500 and 2000. They found that depictions of sunsets have gotten redder from the Industrial Revolution onwards, even during periods of no volcanic activity. Artists, they suggest, are inadvertently capturing increases in pollution during the past 150 years. “Aerosols have influenced Earth’s temperature records. By correlating colors in paintings with aerosol optical depth, this study helps to validate historical temperature reconstructions,” said A.R. Ravishankara, professor of chemistry and atmospheric science at Colorado State University who was not involved in the study.