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Three centuries of Slovakian drought dynamics

Abstract

Tree-ring data from Slovakia are used to reconstruct decadal-scale fluctuations of the self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index (scPDSI) over 1744–2006. The ring width chronology correlates at 0.58 (annual) and 0.88 (decadal) with regional-scale (48–50°N and 18–20°E) summer (June–August) scPDSI variations (1901–2002). Driest and wettest years common to the tree-ring and target data are 1947, 1948, 1964, and 1916, 1927, 1938, 1941, respectively. The model indicates decadal-scale drought ~1780–1810, 1850–1870, 1940–1960, and during the late twentieth century. The wettest period occurred ~1745–1775. Instrumental measurements and documentary evidence allow the reconstructed drought extremes to be verified and also provide additional insights on associated synoptic drivers and socioeconomic impacts. Comparison of anomalous dry conditions with European-scale fields of 500 hPa geopotential height retains positive pressure anomalies centered over Central Europe leading to atmospheric stability, subsidence and dry conditions. Negative mid-tropospheric geopotential height anomalies over Western Europe are connected with anomalous wet conditions over Slovakia. Nine existing, annually resolved hydro-climatic reconstructions from Central Europe, which were herein considered for comparison with the Slovakian findings, reveal significant high- to low-frequency coherency among the majority of records. Differences between the Slovakian and the other reconstructions are most evident at the end of the nineteenth century.

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Abbreviations

CE:

Coefficient of efficiency

CRU:

Climatic Research Unit

DW:

Durbin–Watson

EPS:

Expressed Population Signal

GCM:

Global circulation model

GISS:

Goddard Institute for Space Studies

JJA:

June–August

m asl:

Meter above sea-level

MTM:

Multi-Taper method

PDSI:

Palmer drought severity index

r :

Pearson’s correlation coefficient

Rbar:

Inter-series correlation

RE:

Reduction of error

scPDSI:

Self-calibrated Palmer drought severity index

STDEV:

Standard deviation

TRW:

Tree-ring width

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to R. Glaser, W. Oberhuber, A. Pauling, C. Pfister, R. Wimmer, and R. Wilson for making their original reconstructions available. P. Faško provided average precipitation series and A. Kiss documentary data for Slovakia. A. Verstege measured tree-ring width, R. J. Kaczka supported fieldwork, J. Luterbacher and R. J. S. Wilson contributed via discussion. Supported by the SNF project NCCR-climate (Extract) and the EC project MILLENNIUM (#017008).

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Correspondence to U. Büntgen.

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Büntgen, U., Brázdil, R., Frank, D. et al. Three centuries of Slovakian drought dynamics. Clim Dyn 35, 315–329 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-009-0563-2

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Keywords

  • Tree-ring width
  • Documentary evidence
  • Drought
  • Synoptic pattern