Climate Dynamics

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 237-252

First online:

Spatiotemporal drought variability in northwestern Africa over the last nine centuries

  • Ramzi TouchanAffiliated withLaboratory of Tree Ring Research, The University of Arizona Email author 
  • , Kevin J. AnchukaitisAffiliated withLamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
  • , David M. MekoAffiliated withLaboratory of Tree Ring Research, The University of Arizona
  • , Mohamed SabirAffiliated withNational School of Forest Engineering
  • , Said AttalahAffiliated withDepartment of Agronomy, University of Ourgla
  • , Ali AlouiAffiliated withInstitute of Sylvo-pastoral of Tabarka

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Changes in precipitation patterns and the frequency and duration of drought are likely to be the feature of anthropogenic climate change that will have the most direct and most immediate consequences for human populations. The latest generation of state-of-the-art climate models project future widespread drying in the subtropics. Here, we reconstruct spatially-complete gridded Palmer drought severity index values back to A.D. 1179 over Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The reconstructions provide long-term context for northwest African hydroclimatology, revealing large-scale regional droughts prior to the sixteenth century, as well as more heterogeneous patterns in sixteenth, eighteenth, and twentieth century. Over the most recent decades a shift toward dry conditions over the region is observed, which is consistent with general circulation model projections of greenhouse gas forced enhanced regional subtropical drought.


Tree-ring Drought Climate field reconstruction Mediterranean Northwestern Africa