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Ned Stark was right when he said, “Winter is coming.” First the polar vortex, now another bout of ice, snow, and frigid temperatures. It looks like winter will be with us until Season 4 of Game of Thrones premieres on April 6.

But will winter linger? Our sun has gone strangely quiet. It’s not the first time solar activity has been minimal. From about 1645 to 1715 Europe was plunged into a cold period that became known as the little ice age. Sunspot activity was minimal, a phenomenon called the Maunder Minimum.

How cold was it? So cold that the sea froze off the coast of France all along the Neptune Line. And I don’t get credit for that line; it’s by Al Stewart from his splendid and little-known song “The Coldest Winter in Memory.” Here’s the master himself, singing not by memory but through the help of one of his many loyal and perhaps obsessed fans (of which I am proud to be one of. Well, except for the obsessed part).

In addition to Charles XII of Sweden’s invasion of Russia, the little ice age brought Europe frost fairs on the Thames, animals and people dropping dead from hypothermia, and famines.

As for the lost town of Dunwich, much of it did wash away due to coastal erosion, although this took place before 1709.

If we’re in for a little ice age, how will that affect climate change due to global warming? Will our cities follow All Saints Church of Dunwich to sink beneath the waves? Curious minds might want to read this (WARNING: Shamless plug) thought-provoking story, Fire, Flood and a Strong Chance of Storms.

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