Research ArticleCLIMATOLOGY

Old World megadroughts and pluvials during the Common Era

Science Advances  06 Nov 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 10, e1500561
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500561

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

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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