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Western Mediterranean precipitation over the last 300 years from instrumental observations


The paper reports the results of the analysis of the 14 longest precipitation instrumental series, covering the last 300 years, that have been recovered in six subareas of the Western Mediterranean basin, i.e., Portugal, Northern and Southern Spain, Southern France, Northern and Southern Italy. This study extends back by one century our knowledge about the instrumental precipitation over the Western Mediterranean, and by two centuries in some specific subareas. All the time series show repeated swings. No specific trends have been found over the whole period, except in a few cases, but with modest time changes and sometimes having opposite tendency. The same can be said for the most recent decades although with some more marked departures from the average. The correlation between the various Mediterranean subareas is generally not significant, or almost uncorrelated. The Wavelet Spectral Analysis applied to the precipitation identifies only a minor 56-year cycle in autumn, i.e., the same return period that has been found in literature for the Sea Surface Temperature over North Atlantic. A comparison with a gridded dataset reconstruction based on mixed multiproxy and instrumental observations, shows that the grid reconstruction is in good agreement with the observed data for the period after 1900, less for the previous period.

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For this long study, we are grateful to: the EU projects MILLENNIUM (Contract 017008-2) and CLIMATE FOR CULTURE (Contract GA 226973); the French projects OPHELIE and RENASEC; the ESF grant “Mediterranean Climate Variability and Predictability”. For data and/or discussions we are grateful to the following colleagues: M. Fragoso, Lisbon University: T. Nanni, and M. Brunetti, CNR-ISAC, Bologna; GP. Maracchi and A. Crisci, CNR-IBIMET, Florence; M. Sulli, Istituto Sperimentale Selvicoltura, Florence; G. Micela, V. Iuliano and D. Randazzo, Astronomical Observatory “Vaiana”, Palermo; L. Buffoni, F. Chlistovsky and M. Maugeri, Milan University; V. Zanini and L. Pigatto; University Library, Padua; L. Prosdocimi, Library of the Astronomy Department, Bologna University; R. Stasi, P. Pirolo and S. Pelle, National Central Library, Florence; P. Galluzzi, A. Lenzi, G. Strano, A. Saviori; Museo Galileo Institute and of History of Science, Florence; Father P.D. Spotorno, Library of the Vallombrosa Abbey; E. Borchi and R. Macii. Ximenes Observatory, Florence.

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Correspondence to D. Camuffo.

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Camuffo, D., Bertolin, C., Diodato, N. et al. Western Mediterranean precipitation over the last 300 years from instrumental observations. Climatic Change 117, 85–101 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0539-9

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  • Rain Gauge
  • Reference Period
  • Meteorological Observation
  • Wavelet Power Spectrum
  • Instrumental Observation