International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 57, Issue 5, pp 703–714 | Cite as

A 323-year long reconstruction of drought for SW Romania based on black pine (Pinus Nigra) tree-ring widths

  • Tom Levanič
  • Ionel Popa
  • Simon Poljanšek
  • Constantin Nechita
Original Paper


Increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation pose a major future challenge for sustainable ecosystem management in Romania. To understand ecosystem response and the wider social consequences of environmental change, we constructed a 396-year long (1615–2010) drought sensitive tree-ring width chronology (TRW) of Pinus nigra var. banatica (Georg. et Ion.) growing on steep slopes and shallow organic soil. We established a statistical relationship between TRW and two meteorological parameters—monthly sum of precipitation (PP) and standardised precipitation index (SPI). PP and SPI correlate significantly with TRW (r = 0.54 and 0.58) and are stable in time. Rigorous statistical tests, which measure the accuracy and prediction ability of the model, were all significant. SPI was eventually reconstructed back to 1688, with extreme dry and wet years identified using the percentile method. By means of reconstruction, we identified two so far unknown extremely dry years in Romania—1725 and 1782. Those 2 years are almost as dry as 1946, which was known as the “year of great famine.” Since no historical documents for these 2 years were available in local archives, we compared the results with those from neighbouring countries and discovered that both years were extremely dry in the wider region (Slovakia, Hungary, Anatolia, Syria, and Turkey). While the 1800–1900 period was relatively mild, with only two moderately extreme years as far as weather is concerned, the 1900–2009 period was highly salient owing to the very high number of wet and dry extremes—five extremely wet and three extremely dry events (one of them in 1946) were identified.


Dendroclimatology Standardised precipitation index Summer drought reconstruction Domogled National Park Climate change 



This work was supported by the research project PN-II-RU-TE-2011-3-0040 in Romania, the program and research group “Forest Biology, Ecology and Technology” P4-0107 of the Slovenian Forestry Institute, a research grant by the Slovenian Research Agency (S. Poljanšek) and bilateral cooperation between Slovenia and Romania funded by the Slovenian Research Agency and National Authority for Scientific Research of Romania (ANCS). Fieldwork was carried out in Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park, and we are most grateful to its authorities for allowing us to implement tree sampling in it, as well as providing us with guides in the Park. We are grateful to Martin Cregeen for improving the English language.


  1. Akkemik Ü, Dağdeviren N, Aras A (2005) A preliminary reconstruction (A.D. 1635–2000) of spring precipitation using oak tree rings in the western Black Sea region of Turkey. Int J Biometeorol 49(5):297–302. doi: 10.1007/s00484-004-0249-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baillie MGL, Pilcher JR (1973) A simple cross-dating programme for tree-ring research. Tree-Ring Bull 33:7–14Google Scholar
  3. Barbu S (2005) National strategy on climate change of Romania 2005–2007. Romanian Ministry of Environment and Water Management, BucharestGoogle Scholar
  4. Barbu I, Popa I (2004) Monitoringul secetei în pădurile din România (Drought monitoring in the forests of Romania). Editura Tehnică Silvică, Campulung MoldovenescGoogle Scholar
  5. Briffa KR, Jones PD (1990) Basic chronology statistics and assessment. In: Cook ER, Kairiukstis LA (eds) Methods of dendrochronology: Applications in the environmental sciences. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 137–152Google Scholar
  6. Büntgen U, Frank DC, Kaczka RJ, Verstege A, Zwijacz-Kozica T, Esper J (2007) Growth responses to climate in a multi-species tree-ring network in the Western Carpathian Tatra Mountains, Poland and Slovakia. Tree Physiol 27(5):689–702. doi: 10.1093/treephys/27.5.689 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Büntgen U, Brázdil R, Frank D, Esper J (2010) Three centuries of Slovakian drought dynamics. Clim Dyn 35(2):315–329. doi: 10.1007/s00382-009-0563-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Büntgen U, Brázdil R, Dobrovolný P, Trnka M, Kyncl T (2011) Five centuries of Southern Moravian drought variations revealed from living and historic tree rings. Theor Appl Climatol 105(1):167–180. doi: 10.1007/s00704-010-0381-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Busuioc A, Dumitrescu A, Soare E, Orzan A (2007) Summer anomalies in 2007 in the context of extremely hot and dry summers in Romania. Rom J Meteorol 9(1–2):1–17Google Scholar
  10. Ceglar A, Kajfež-Bogataj L (2008) Obravnava meteorološke suše z različnimi indikatorji (Analysis of meteorological drought with different indicators). Acta Agric Slov 91(2):407–425Google Scholar
  11. Cook ER (1985) Time series analysis approach to tree ring standardization. Dissertation, University of Arizona, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  12. Cook ER, Briffa KR (1990) A comparison of some tree-ring standardization methods. In: Cook ER, Kairiukstis LA (eds) Methods of dendrochronology: Applications in the environmental sciences. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 153–162Google Scholar
  13. Cook ER, Holmes RL (1999) Program ARSTAN—chronology development with statistical analysis (users manual for program ARSTAN). Report, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  14. Cook ER, Kairiukstis LA (eds) (1990) Methods of dendrochronology: Applications in the environmental sciences. Kluwer Academic Publishers, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  15. Cook ER, Peters K (1997) Calculating unbiased tree-ring indices for the study of climatic and environmental change. Holocene 7(3):361–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cook ER, Briffa K, Shiyatov S, Mazepa V (1990) Tree-ring standardization and growth trend estimation. In: Cook ER, Kairiukstis LA (eds) Methods of dendrochronology: applications in the environmental sciences. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 104–162Google Scholar
  17. Cook ER, Briffa KR, Jones PD (1994) Spatial regression methods in dendroclimatology: a review and comparison of two techniques. Int J Climatol 14:379–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Croitoru A, Toma F, Dragota C (2011) Meteorological drought in central Romanian plain (between Olt and Arges rivers). Case study: year 2000. Riscuri Si Catastrofe 9:113–120Google Scholar
  19. Eckstein D, Bauch J (1969) Beitrag zur Rationalisierung eines dendrochronologischen Verfahrens und zur Analyse seiner Aussagesicherheit. Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt 88(4):230–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Esper J, Frank D, Büntgen U, Verstege A, Luterbacher J, Xoplaki E (2007) Long-term drought severity variations in Morocco. Geophys Res Lett 34(17):L17702. doi: 10.1029/2007gl030844 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fritts HC (1976) Tree rings and climate. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Ghioca M (2009) Drought monitoring using self-calibrating Palmer’s indices in the southwest of Romania. Rom Rep Phys 61:151–164Google Scholar
  23. Holmes RL (1983) Computer-assisted quality control in tree-ring dating and measurement. Tree-Ring Bull 43:69–78Google Scholar
  24. IPCC (2007) In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M et al (eds) Climate Change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 996Google Scholar
  25. Isajev V, Fady B, Semerci H, Andonovski V (2004) EUFORGEN technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use for European black pine (Pinus nigra). Report, international plant genetic resource institute. IPGRI Esco, RomeGoogle Scholar
  26. Kern Z, Popa I (2007) Climate–growth relationship of tree species from a mixed stand of Apuseni Mts., Romania. Dendrochronologia 24(2–3):109–115. doi: 10.1016/j.dendro.2006.10.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kern Z, Popa I, Varga Z, Széles É (2009) Degraded temperature sensitivity of a stone pine chronology explained by dendrochemical evidences. Dendrochronologia 27(2):121–128. doi: 10.1016/j.dendro.2009.06.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kiss A (2009) Historical climatology in Hungary: role of documentary evidence in the study of past climates and hydrometeorological extremes. Időjárás 113(4):315–339Google Scholar
  29. Leal S, Eamus D, Grabner M, Wimmer R, Cherubini P (2008) Tree rings of Pinus nigra from the Vienna basin region (Austria) show evidence of change in climatic sensitivity in the late 20th century. Can J For Res 38(4):744–759. doi: 10.1139/x07-189 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lebourgeois F, Mérian P, Courdier F, Ladier J, Dreyfus P (2012) Instability of climate signal in tree-ring width in Mediterranean mountains: a multi-species analysis. Trees 26(3):715. doi: 10.1007/s00468-011-0638-7 Google Scholar
  31. Levanič T (2007) ATRICS - A new system for image acquisition in dendrochronology. Tree-Ring Research 63 (2):117–122Google Scholar
  32. Linares JC, Tíscar PA (2010) Climate change impacts and vulnerability of the southern populations of Pinus nigra subsp. salzmannii. Tree Physiol 30(7):795–806. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpq052 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Manea F, Trusca V, Alecu M, Draghici I, Popescu A, Vasile C, Busuioc A, Andrei L (2005) Romania’s third national communication on climate change under the United Nations framework convention on climate change. Ministry of Environment and Water Management, BucharestGoogle Scholar
  34. Martín-Benito D, Cherubini P, del Río M, Cañellas I (2008) Growth response to climate and drought in Pinus nigra Arn. trees of different crown classes. Trees 22(3):363–373. doi: 10.1007/s00468-007-0191-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Martín-Benito D, del Río M, Cañellas I (2010) Black pine (Pinus nigra Arn.) growth divergence along a latitudinal gradient in Western Mediterranean mountains. Ann For Sci 67(4):401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McDowell NG, Pockman WT, Craig A, Breshears DD, Cobb N, Kolb T, Plaut J, Sperry J, West A, Williams D, Yepez EA (2008) Mechanisms of plant survival and mortality during drought: why do some plants survive while others succumb to drought? New Phytol 178(4):719–739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McKee TB, Doesken NJ, Kliest J (1993) The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. In: Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Applied Climatology, Anaheim, CA, USA, 17–22. American Meteorological Society, Boston, MA, USA, pp 179–184 Google Scholar
  38. Mitchell TD, Jones PD (2005) An improved method of constructing a database of monthly climate observations and associated high-resolution grids. Int J Climatol 25(6):693–712. doi: 10.1002/joc.1181 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. National Research Council (2006) Surface temperature reconstructions for the last 2,000 years. National Academies Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  40. New M, Lister D, Hulme M, Makin I (2002) A high-resolution data set of surface climate over the global land areas. Clim Res 21:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nicault A, Alleaume S, Brewer S, Carrer M, Nola P, Guiot J (2008) Mediterranean drought fluctuation during the last 500 years based on tree-ring data. Clim Dyn 31(2):227–245. doi: 10.1007/s00382-007-0349-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Palmer W (1965) Meteorological drought. Report no. 45, U.S. Weather Bureau. Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  43. Panayotov M, Yurukov S (2007) Tree ring chronology of Pinus peuce from the Pirin Mts and possibilities to use it for climate analysis. Phytologia Balc 13(3):313–320Google Scholar
  44. Panayotov M, Bebi P, Trouet V, Yurukov S (2010) Climate signal in tree-ring chronologies of Pinus peuce and Pinus heldreichii; from the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria. Trees 24(3):479–490. doi: 10.1007/s00468-010-0416-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Panayotov M, Dimitrov D, Yurukov S (2011) Extreme climate conditions in Bulgaria—evidence from Picea abies tree-rings. Silva Balc 12(1):37–46Google Scholar
  46. Patroescu M, Chincea I, Rozylowicz L, Sorescu C (eds) (2008) Padurile cu pin negru de Banat - Sit Natura 2000 (Banat black pine forests - Natura 2000 site). Editura Brumar, TimisoaraGoogle Scholar
  47. Pauling A, Luterbacher J, Casty C, Wanner H (2006) Five hundred years of gridded high-resolution precipitation reconstructions over Europe and the connection to large-scale circulation. Clim Dyn 26(4):387–405. doi: 10.1007/s00382-005-0090-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Poljanšek S, Ballian D, Nagel TA, Levanič T (2012) A 435-year-long European black pine (Pinus nigra) chronology for the central-western Balkan region. Tree-Ring Res 68(1):31–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Popa I, Kern Z (2009) Long-term summer temperature reconstruction inferred from tree-ring records from the Eastern Carpathians. Clim Dyn 32(7):1107–1117. doi: 10.1007/s00382-008-0439-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. R Development Core Team (2009) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  51. Stefan S, Ghioca M, Rimbu N, Boroneant C (2004) Study of meteorological and hydrological drought in Southern Romania from observational data. Int J Climatol 24:871–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stokes MA, Smiley TL (1968) An introduction to tree-ring dating. 2nd edn. The University of Arizona Press, TucsonGoogle Scholar
  53. Strumia G, Wimmer R, Grabner M (1997) Dendroclimatic sensitivity of Pinus nigra Arnold in Austria. Dendrochronologia 15:129–137Google Scholar
  54. Touchan R, Funkhouser G, Hughes M, Erkan N (2005a) Standardized precipitation index reconstructed from Turkish tree-ring widths. Clim Chang 72(3):339–353. doi: 10.1007/s10584-005-5358-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Touchan R, Xoplaki E, Funkhouser G, Luterbacher J, Hughes M, Erkan N, Akkemik Ü, Stephan J (2005b) Reconstructions of spring/summer precipitation for the Eastern Mediterranean from tree-ring widths and its connection to large-scale atmospheric circulation. Clim Dyn 25(1):75–98. doi: 10.1007/s00382-005-0016-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Touchan R, Akkemik Ü, Hughes MK, Erkan N (2007) May-June precipitation reconstruction of southwestern Anatolia, Turkey during the last 900 years from tree rings. Quat Res 68(2):196–202. doi: 10.1016/j.yqres.2007.07.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Touchan R, Meko DM, Aloui A (2008) Precipitation reconstruction for Northwestern Tunisia from tree rings. J Arid Environ 72(10):1887–1896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Touchan R, Anchukaitis K, Meko D, Sabir M, Attalah S, Aloui A (2011) Spatiotemporal drought variability in northwestern Africa over the last nine centuries. Clim Dyn 37:237–252. doi: 10.1007/s00382-010-0804-4 Google Scholar
  59. van Oldenborgh GJ (1999) KNMI climate explorer. Koninklijk Netherlands Meteorologisch Institut (KNMI), De Bilt, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  60. Wigley TML, Briffa KR, Jones PD (1984) On the average value of correlated time series, with applications in dendroclimatology and hydrometeorology. J Clim Appl Meteorol 23:201–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zang C (2009) BootRes: The bootRes package for bootstrapped response and correlation functions. R package, 1st edn. Accessed 02 October 2012

Copyright information

© ISB 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Levanič
    • 1
  • Ionel Popa
    • 2
  • Simon Poljanšek
    • 1
  • Constantin Nechita
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Slovenian Forestry InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Forest Research and Management InstituteCampulung MoldovenescRomania
  3. 3.Faculty of Forestry“Ştefan cel Mare” University of SuceavaSuceavaRomania

Personalised recommendations