Climate Dynamics

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 75–98 | Cite as

Reconstructions of spring/summer precipitation for the Eastern Mediterranean from tree-ring widths and its connection to large-scale atmospheric circulation

  • Ramzi TouchanEmail author
  • Elena Xoplaki
  • Gary Funkhouser
  • Jürg Luterbacher
  • Malcolm K. Hughes
  • Nesat Erkan
  • Ünal Akkemik
  • Jean Stephan


This study represents the first large-scale systematic dendroclimatic sampling focused on developing chronologies from different species in the eastern Mediterranean region. Six reconstructions were developed from chronologies ranging in length from 115 years to 600 years. The first reconstruction (1885–2000) was derived from principal components (PCs) of 36 combined chronologies. The remaining five, 1800–2000, 1700–2000, 1600–2000, 1500–2000 and 1400–2000 were developed from PCs of 32, 18, 14, 9, and 7 chronologies, respectively. Calibration and verification statistics for the period 1931–2000 show good levels of skill for all reconstructions. The longest period of consecutive dry years, defined as those with less than 90% of the mean of the observed May–August precipitation, was 5 years (1591–1595) and occurred only once during the last 600 years. The longest reconstructed wet period was 5 years (1601–1605 and 1751–1755). No long term trends were found in May–August precipitation during the last few centuries. Regression maps are used to identify the influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation on regional precipitation. In general, tree-ring indices are influenced by May–August precipitation, which is driven by anomalous below (above) normal pressure at all atmospheric levels and by convection (subsidence) and small pressure gradients at sea level. These atmospheric conditions also control the anomaly surface air temperature distribution which indicates below (above) normal values in the southern regions and warmer (cooler) conditions north of around 40°N. A compositing technique is used to extract information on large-scale climate signals from extreme wet and dry summers for the second half of the twentieth century and an independent reconstruction over the last 237 years. Similar main modes of atmospheric patterns and surface air temperature distribution related to extreme dry and wet summers were identified both for the most recent 50 years and the last 237 years. Except for the last few decades, running correlation analyses between the major European-scale circulation patterns and eastern Mediteranean spring/summer precipitation over the last 237 years are non-stationary and insignificant, suggesting that local and/or sub-regional geographic factors and processes are important influences on tree-ring variability over the last few centuries.


Geopotential Height Empirical Orthogonal Function Canonical Correlation Analysis Eastern Mediterranean Region Precipitation Reconstruction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank the Ministry of Forestry, Southwest Anatolia Forest Research Institute (SAFRI), the Director Mr. Yusuf Cengiz for his great help and support in making this study possible. We would like also to thank the Lebanon Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Forestry, the Director Mr. Ghattas Ak and Assistant Director Mr. Fadi Asmer; the University of Aleppo, Faculty of Agriculture; the Cyprus Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Forestry and the Cyprus Forestry College, Cyprus Meteorological Service, Dr. Andreas Christou, Mr. Christos Alexandrou, and Mr. Stelios Pashiardis; and University of Patras, Botanical Institute, Department of Biology, Greece, Mr. Dimitris Sarris and Dr. Dimitris Christodoulakis for their help and support. We thank Drs. Peter Kuniholm and Maryanne Newton, Malcolm and Carolyn Wiener Laboratory for Aegean and Near Eastern Dendrochronology, Cornel University for their assistance and for providing us with some of their C. libani samples from Lebanon. We thank Drs. Gregg Garfin, Dave Meko, and Martin Munro for their advice and suggestions. We thank Brian Wallen, Maher Qishawi, Necati Bas, Erdogan Uzun, Nęsibe Dağdeviren Galip Yanik, and Evan Adams for their valuable assistance in the field; we thank Melissa Hubbard, Christopher Shuler, Chandler Birch, and Candice Marburger for their assistance in sample preparation and measurement. We thank Mr. Richard Warren for his independent verification of our cross-dating of some of the samples. We thank Dr. J. Fidel Gonzar Rouco and Mr. Paul Della-Marta for statistical advice. We thank Dr. Murat Türkes for providing his climate classification scheme from Turkey. We thank the Tyndall Center for allowing us to use the Mitchell et al. (2004) temperature and precipitation data. We wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggests on the manuscript. Funding was provided by the US National Science Foundation, Earth System History (Grant No. 0075956). Elena Xoplaki was partially supported by Fifth Framework Programme of the European Union (project SOAP), the Swiss Science Foundation (NCCR Climate) and US National Science Foundation, Earth System History (Grant No. 0075956). Jürg Luterbacher was supported by the Swiss Science Foundation (NCCR Climate). Finally, we thank our close friend, the late Richard Holmes for his great support and advice since the inception of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramzi Touchan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elena Xoplaki
    • 2
  • Gary Funkhouser
    • 1
  • Jürg Luterbacher
    • 2
  • Malcolm K. Hughes
    • 1
  • Nesat Erkan
    • 3
  • Ünal Akkemik
    • 4
  • Jean Stephan
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Tree-Ring ResearchThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Geography and NCCR ClimateUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.Southwest Anatolia Forest research Institute (SAFRI)AntalyaTurkey
  4. 4.Faculty of Forestry, Department of Forest BotanyUniversity of IstanbulBahçeköy-IstanbulTurkey
  5. 5.Forestry DepartmentMinistry of AgricultureBeirutLebanon

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