Climatic Change

, Volume 85, Issue 3–4, pp 357–379

North Atlantic oscillation control of droughts in north-east Spain: evaluation since 1600 a.d.



This paper analyses the role played by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) in the creation of drought conditions in a semi-arid region of north-east Spain (the middle Ebro valley), from 1600 to the year 2000. The study used documents from ecclesiastical archives for the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For the twentieth century, instrumental precipitation records were used as well. A December–August drought index from 1600 to 1900 was compiled from the historical documentary sources (rogation ceremonies). The index was validated by means of precipitation records between 1858 and 1900 and independent precipitation data from 1600 reconstructed by means of dendrochronological records. Using instrumental data a drought index was also calculated (Standardized Precipitation Index, SPI) for the 1958–2000 period. We found that the NAO was important in explaining the droughts identified in the study area from documents and instrumental data. Positive values of the winter NAO index are prone to cause droughts in the middle Ebro valley. This finding has been verified since 1600 by means of two independent reconstructions of the winter NAO index. The same behaviour has been observed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by means of instrumental records. The climatic and geographic factors that explain the high influence of North Atlantic Oscillation on droughts in this region are discussed in depth.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología, CSIC (Spanish Research Council)ZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de GeografíaUniversidad de ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

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