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Sci Adv. 2015 Nov 6;1(10):e1500561. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1500561. eCollection 2015 Nov.

Old World megadroughts and pluvials during the Common Era.

Author information

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
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA. ; 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.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

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

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