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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-92
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2020-92
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  20 Jul 2020

20 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Central Europe, 1531–1540 CE: The driest summer decade of the past five centuries?

Rudolf Brázdil1,2, Petr Dobrovolný1,2, Martin Bauch3, Chantal Camenisch4,5, Andrea Kiss6,7, Oldřich Kotyza8, Piotr Oliński9, and Ladislava Řezníčková1,2 Rudolf Brázdil et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 2Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 3Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 5Institute of History, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 6Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
  • 7Department of Historical Auxiliary Sciences, Institute of History, University of Szeged, Hungary
  • 8Regional Museum, Litoměřice, Czech Republic
  • 9Institute of History and Archival Sciences, University of Toruń, Poland

Abstract. Based on three drought indices (SPI, SPEI, Z-index) reconstructed from the documentary evidence and instrumental records, the summers of 1531–1540 were identified as the driest summer decade during the 1501–2015 period in the Czech Lands. Based on documentary data, extended from the Czech scale to central Europe, dry patterns of various intensities (represented, for example, by dry spells, low numbers of precipitation days, very low rivers and drying-out of water sources) occurred in 1532, 1534–1536, 1538 and particularly 1540, broken by wetter or normal patterns in 1531, 1533, 1537 and 1539. Information relevant to summer droughts extracted from documentary data in central Europe were confirmed in summer precipitation totals from a multi-proxy reconstruction for Europe by Pauling et al. (2006) and further by self-calibrated summer PDSI reconstruction from tree-ring widths in OWDA by Cook et al. (2015). The summer patterns described are consistent with the distribution of sea-level pressure deviations from a modern reference period. Summer droughts were responsible for numerous negative impacts, such as bad harvests of certain crops, reduction and lack of water sources, and frequent forest fires, while in the wetter summers central Europe was affected by floods. However, there are no indications of severe impacts of multi-country or multi-year effect. Reconstructions based on documentary data indicate that the summers of 1531–1540 constitute the driest summer decade in central Europe for the past five centuries, between 1501 and 2010 CE.

Rudolf Brázdil et al.

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Short summary
Previous studies related to historical droughts in the Czech Lands showed that summers of 1531–1540 could represent the driest summer decade of the past 500 years. To confirm this hypothesis, documentary data from Central Europe were collected and presented for individual summers and complemented by maps of precipitation and drought distribution to document corresponding weather patterns and their various impacts. Main droughts occurred in 1532, 1534–1536, 1538 and particularly in 1540.
Previous studies related to historical droughts in the Czech Lands showed that summers of...
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