A tree-ring perspective on temporal changes in the frequency and intensity of hydroclimatic extremes in the territory of the Czech Republic since 761 AD
- 1Department of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
- 2Global Change Research Centre AS CR, Brno, Czech Republic
- 3Department of Wood Science, Mendel University in Brno, Brno, Czech Republic
- 4Institute of Agriculture Systems and Bioclimatology, Mendel University in Brno, Brno, Czech Republic
- 5Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape, Zürich, Switzerland
- 6Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Bern, Switzerland
Abstract. It is generally accepted that anthropogenic-induced climate change may affect the frequency and intensity of hydrological extremes, together with a variety of subsequent impacts on ecosystems and human society. Proxy records that are absolutely dated and annually resolved are indispensable to a better understanding of temporal changes in the occurrence of floods and droughts.
This contribution presents a new data set of 3194 oak (Quercus spp.) ring width samples from living trees and historical timbers, collected across the Czech Republic. A composite tree-ring width (TRW) chronology is developed that best captures the high-frequency extremes over the past 1250 years. The temporal distribution of negative and positive extremes is regular with no indication of clustering. The highest number of negative extremes was found in the 19th century, while positive extremes were most frequent in the 12th century. The lowest number of negative and positive extremes occurred in the 18th and 13th centuries respectively.
Negative and positive TRW extremes were compared with the instrumental measurements back to 1805 AD, with documentary-based temperature and precipitation reconstructions from 1804 to 1500, and with documentary evidence before 1500 AD. Negative TRW extremes coincided with above-average March–May and June–August temperature means and below-average precipitation totals. Positive extremes coincided with higher summer precipitation, while temperatures were mostly normal. Mean sea level pressure (SLP) over the European/North Atlantic sector suggested drought for the negative oak TRW extremes, whereas the positive extremes corresponded to wetter conditions overall. More consistent patterns of synoptic SLP were found for negative rather than for positive extremes. Reasons for the possible offset between the oak-based hydroclimatic extremes and their counterparts from meteorological observations and documentary evidence may be manifold and emphasize the need for multi-proxy approaches.