Climate Dynamics

, Volume 31, Issue 2–3, pp 227–245

Mediterranean drought fluctuation during the last 500 years based on tree-ring data

  • A. Nicault
  • S. Alleaume
  • S. Brewer
  • M. Carrer
  • P. Nola
  • J. Guiot


A 2.5 × 2.5° gridded summer (April–September) drought reconstruction over the larger Mediterranean land area (32.5°/47.5°N, 10°W/50°E; 152 grid points) is described, based on a network of 165 tree-ring series. The drought index used is the self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index, and the period considered is 1500–2000. The reconstruction technique combines an analogue technique for the estimation of missing tree-ring data with an artificial neural network for optimal non-linear calibration, including a bootstrap error assessment. Tests were carried out on the various sources of error in the reconstructions. Errors related to the temporal variations of the number of proxies were tested by comparing four reconstructions calibrated with four different sized regressor datasets, representing the decrease in the number of available proxies over time. Errors related to the heterogeneous spatial density of predictors were tested using pseudo-proxies, provided by the global climate model ECHO-G. Finally the errors related to the imperfect climate signal recorded by tree-ring series were tested by adding white noise to the pseudo-proxies. Reconstructions pass standard cross-validation tests. Nevertheless tests using pseudo-proxies show that the reconstructions are less good in areas where proxies are rare, but that the average reconstruction curve is robust. Finally, the noise added to proxies, which is by definition a high frequency component, has a major effect on the low frequency signal, but not on the medium frequencies. The comparison of the low frequency trends of our mean reconstruction and the GCM simulation indicates that the detrending method used is able to preserve the long-term variations of reconstructed PDSI. The results also highlight similar multi-decadal PDSI variations in the central and western parts of the Mediterranean basin and less clear low frequency changes in the east. The sixteenth and the first part of the seventeenth centuries are characterized by marked dry episodes in the west similar to those observed in the end of the twentieth century. In contrast, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Little Ice Age) are characterized by dominant wet periods. In the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin the observed strong drought period of the end of the twentieth century seems to be the strongest of the last 500 years.


Climate reconstruction Tree-ring Mediterranean PDSI Drought 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Nicault
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Alleaume
    • 3
  • S. Brewer
    • 1
  • M. Carrer
    • 4
  • P. Nola
    • 5
  • J. Guiot
    • 1
  1. 1.CEREGE, UMR 6635 CNRS/Université Paul CézanneAix-en-Provence Cedex 4France
  2. 2.I.N.R.S., Centre ETEQuébecCanada
  3. 3.CemagrefAix en Provence Cedex 5Germany
  4. 4.Dip. TeSAF - Treeline Ecology Research Unit - AgripolisUniversità degli Studi di PadovaLegnaro (PD)Italy
  5. 5.Dip. Ecologia del TerritorioUniversità degli Studi di PaviaPaviaItaly

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