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      Old World megadroughts and pluvials during the Common Era

      1 , * , 1 , 1 , 2 , 3 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 1 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 8 , 7 , 10 , 2 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 14 , 2 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 28 , 28 , 36 , 23 , 36 , 19 , 37 , 23 , 37 , 9 , 37 , 38 , 39 ,   40

      Science Advances

      American Association for the Advancement of Science

      drought atlas, megadrought, dendroclimatology, tree-ring reconstruction, Mediterranean drying, climate change, greenhouse gas forcing

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          An atlas of megadroughts in Europe and in the Mediterranean Basin during the Common Era provides insights into climate variability.


          Climate model projections suggest widespread drying in the Mediterranean Basin and wetting in Fennoscandia in the coming decades largely as a consequence of greenhouse gas forcing of climate. To place these and other “Old World” climate projections into historical perspective based on more complete estimates of natural hydroclimatic variability, we have developed the “Old World Drought Atlas” (OWDA), a set of year-to-year maps of tree-ring reconstructed summer wetness and dryness over Europe and the Mediterranean Basin during the Common Era. The OWDA matches historical accounts of severe drought and wetness with a spatial completeness not previously available. In addition, megadroughts reconstructed over north-central Europe in the 11th and mid-15th centuries reinforce other evidence from North America and Asia that droughts were more severe, extensive, and prolonged over Northern Hemisphere land areas before the 20th century, with an inadequate understanding of their causes. The OWDA provides new data to determine the causes of Old World drought and wetness and attribute past climate variability to forced and/or internal variability.

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          Most cited references 4

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          Long-term aridity changes in the western United States.

           E. R. Cook (2004)
          The western United States is experiencing a severe multiyear drought that is unprecedented in some hydroclimatic records. Using gridded drought reconstructions that cover most of the western United States over the past 1200 years, we show that this drought pales in comparison to an earlier period of elevated aridity and epic drought in AD 900 to 1300, an interval broadly consistent with the Medieval Warm Period. If elevated aridity in the western United States is a natural response to climate warming, then any trend toward warmer temperatures in the future could lead to a serious long-term increase in aridity over western North America.
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            2500 years of European climate variability and human susceptibility.

            Climate variations influenced the agricultural productivity, health risk, and conflict level of preindustrial societies. Discrimination between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations, however, remains difficult because of the paucity of high-resolution paleoclimatic evidence. We present tree ring-based reconstructions of central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years. Recent warming is unprecedented, but modern hydroclimatic variations may have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from ~250 to 600 C.E. coincided with the demise of the western Roman Empire and the turmoil of the Migration Period. Such historical data may provide a basis for counteracting the recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.
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              Reconstructing dry and wet summers in SE Slovenia from oak tree-ring series.

              We present a reconstruction of the June weather conditions in SE Slovenia from 1497 to 2003 based on the De Martonne aridity index (AI). The AI were derived from oak (Quercus spp.) tree-ring series of living trees and historic wood, which exhibited a clear response to June precipitation (positive) and temperature (negative). In the reconstructed AI time series we classified negative and positive deviations from the mean as strong (+/-1.28 SD) or extreme (+/-1.645 SD), and thus identified 50 years with a likely dry and hot June, as well as 40 years with a likely wet and cool June. Historical sources and chronicles were used to validate the AI reconstruction in the pre-instrumental period before 1896. The years 1501, 1540, 1546, 1616, 1718, 1788, 1822, 1834, 1839 and 1841, with extreme or strong negative AI deviations, are mentioned in Slovenian chronicles because of crop failures, droughts or extremely hot summers. The years 1691, 1705, 1798, 1799 and 1847, with extreme or strong positive AI deviations, are mentioned as years with a cool and rainy summer. We discuss the relevance of June weather conditions for the growth of plants in the region between the Alps, the Mediterranean and the continental Pannonian lowland, and the possible changes due to the current climate change scenario.

                Author and article information

                Sci Adv
                Sci Adv
                Science Advances
                American Association for the Advancement of Science
                November 2015
                06 November 2015
                : 1
                : 10
                [1 ]Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA.
                [2 ]Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.
                [3 ]Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf 8903, Switzerland.
                [4 ]Navarino Environmental Observatory, Messinia 24001, Greece.
                [5 ]Institute for Forest Growth (IWW), University of Freiburg, Freiburg 79106, Germany.
                [6 ]Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt 3730, Netherlands.
                [7 ]Paleoecology Center, Queens University, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland.
                [8 ]National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen DK-1220, Denmark.
                [9 ]Competence Center for Underwater Archaeology and Dendrochronology, Office for Urbanism, City of Zürich, Zürich 8008, Switzerland.
                [10 ]TeSAF Department, Università degli Studi di Padova, Agripolis, Legnaro I-35020, Italy.
                [11 ]Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana SI-1000, Slovenia.
                [12 ]Environmental Research and Education (UFB), Mistelbach 95511, Germany.
                [13 ]Department of Geography, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz 55099, Germany.
                [14 ]Cornell Tree Ring Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
                [15 ]Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Stockholm SE-106, Sweden.
                [16 ]Technische Universität Dresden, Tharandt D-01737, Germany.
                [17 ]Department of Ecology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona 08028, Spain.
                [18 ]Flanders Heritage Agency, Brussels 1210, Belgium.
                [19 ]Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi FI-96301, Finland.
                [20 ]Bavarian State Department for Cultural Heritage, Thierhaupten 86672, Germany.
                [21 ]German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Berlin 14195, Germany.
                [22 ]Jahrringlabor Hofmann, Nürtingen 72622, Germany.
                [23 ]Department of Forest Ecology, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague 16521, Czech Republic.
                [24 ]Labor Dendron, Basel 4057, Switzerland.
                [25 ]Faculty of Forestry, Istanbul University, Bahcekoy, Sariyer 34473, Istanbul, Turkey.
                [26 ]Moravian Dendro-Labor, Brno 61600, Czech Republic.
                [27 ]Slovenian Forestry Institute, Ljubljana SI-1000, Slovenia.
                [28 ]Department of Earth Sciences, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg SE-405, Sweden.
                [29 ]Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory, Oxford University, Oxford RG4 7TX, UK.
                [30 ]DeLaWi – Tree Ring Analyses, Windeck D-51570, Germany.
                [31 ]Institut für Geographie, Universität Innsbruck, Innsbruck A-6020, Austria.
                [32 ]Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’Ambiente, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Pavia 27100, Italy.
                [33 ]Dendrology Department, University of Forestry, Sophia 1756, Bulgaria.
                [34 ]Forest Research and Management Institute, Calea Bucovinei, Campulung Moldovenesc 725100, Romania.
                [35 ]Faculty of Forestry, University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf, Freising 85354, Germany.
                [36 ]NTNU University Museum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim 7012, Norway.
                [37 ]Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
                [38 ]Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun 87-100, Poland.
                [39 ]School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews KY16 9AL, Scotland.
                [40 ]Ecoclimatology, Technische Universität München, Freising 85354, Germany.
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. E-mail: drdendro@ 123456ldeo.columbia.edu
                Copyright © 2015, The Authors

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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