Climatic Change

, Volume 70, Issue 3, pp 363-430

First online:

Historical Climatology In Europe – The State Of The Art

  • Rudolf BráZdilAffiliated withInstitute of Geography, Masaryk University Email author 
  • , Christian PfisterAffiliated withInstitute of History/NCCR Climate, University of Bern
  • , Heinz WannerAffiliated withNCCR Climate, University of Bern
  • , Hans Von StorchAffiliated withGKSS-Research-Center
  • , JüRg LuterbacherAffiliated withNCCR Climate, University of Bern

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This paper discusses the state of European research in historical climatology. This field of science and an overview of its development are described in detail. Special attention is given to the documentary evidence used for data sources, including its drawbacks and advantages. Further, methods and significant results of historical-climatological research, mainly achieved since 1990, are presented. The main focus concentrates on data, methods, definitions of the “Medieval Warm Period” and the “Little Ice Age”, synoptic interpretation of past climates, climatic anomalies and natural disasters, and the vulnerability of economies and societies to climate as well as images and social representations of past weather and climate. The potential of historical climatology for climate modelling research is discussed briefly. Research perspectives in historical climatology are formulated with reference to data, methods, interdisciplinarity and impacts.