Climate Dynamics

, Volume 47, Issue 9–10, pp 3011–3027 | Cite as

Tree-ring reconstructed May–June precipitation in the Caucasus since 1752 CE

  • Dario Martin-Benito
  • Caroline C. Ummenhofer
  • Nesibe Köse
  • Hüseyin Tuncay Güner
  • Neil Pederson


The Caucasus region experiences recurrent droughts that affect natural vegetation and the agriculture-based economies of several countries. Because meteorological records are in general scarce and of short timespan, little is known about the magnitude and frequency of past climate variability. Despite the recent increase of climate reconstructions for parts of Eurasia, no study has focused on past hydroclimate variability in the Caucasus. Here, we use a multispecies network of tree-ring width chronologies from the Lesser Caucasus to develop the first precipitation reconstruction for the region back to 1752 CE. Despite the high annual precipitation in the region, our reconstruction accounted for 51.2 % of the variability in May–June precipitation from 1930 to 2001. In comparison with reconstructions in the eastern Mediterranean, our new reconstruction revealed important and distinct drought periods and pluvials. Previous winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and spring East Atlantic/Western Russia (EA/WR) and North Sea Caspian patterns are likely key drivers of May–June precipitation in the Caucasus and Anatolia. NAO appeared to negatively affect rainfall low-frequency variability while effects of EA/WR were more apparent at the interannual timescales. We also show a potential positive effect of Black Sea surface temperatures on May–June precipitation. In the Caucasus, May–June represents the period of major water supply in semi-arid areas and the period with the highest potential of water scarcity in mesic areas. It is also a period of potential catastrophic flood events. Thus, changes to the precipitation regime during this season will be critical to both human and natural systems of the Caucasus region.


Anatolia Black Sea Dendrochronology Drought EA/WR NCP NAO Precipitation 



The authors wish to thank Cengiz Cihan, Javier Martín Fernández, Mehmet Doğan, Marco Mina, Timothy Thrippleton and the Borçka-Artvin Forest Service for their generous assistance during fieldwork. We also thank Ü. Büntgen, A. Nievergelt, A. Verstege, N. Riches, and P.I. Kuniholm for making their tree-ring width chronologies available through the ITRDB. D. M-B was funded by Marie-Curie IEF Grant (EU-Grant 329935) and a Fulbright-Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spain) postdoctoral fellowships. This work was partially funded by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, grants from the Climate Center of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and from Istanbul University Research Fund (YADOP 33569). C. U. acknowledges support by NSF under AGS-1355339. LDEO contribution 7969.

Supplementary material

382_2016_3010_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (392 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 392 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dario Martin-Benito
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caroline C. Ummenhofer
    • 3
  • Nesibe Köse
    • 4
  • Hüseyin Tuncay Güner
    • 4
  • Neil Pederson
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA
  2. 2.Forest Ecology, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Department of Environmental Systems ScienceETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Physical OceanographyWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  4. 4.Forest Botany Department, Faculty of ForestryIstanbul UniversityBahçeköy, IstanbulTurkey
  5. 5.Harvard ForestHarvard UniversityPetershamUSA

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