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Tree-ring-based drought reconstruction in the Iberian Range (east of Spain) since 1694

Abstract

Droughts are a recurrent phenomenon in the Mediterranean basin with negative consequences for society, economic activities, and natural systems. Nevertheless, the study of drought recurrence and severity in Spain has been limited so far due to the relatively short instrumental period. In this work, we present a reconstruction of the standardized precipitation index (SPI) for the Iberian Range. Growth variations and climatic signals within the network are assessed developing a correlation matrix and the data combined to a single chronology integrating 336 samples from 169 trees of five different pine species distributed throughout the province of Teruel. The new chronology, calibrated against regional instrumental climatic data, shows a high and stable correlation with the July SPI integrating moisture conditions over 12 months forming the basis for a 318-year drought reconstruction. The climate signal contained in this reconstruction is highly significant (p < 0.05) and spatially robust over the interior areas of Spain located above 1000 meters above sea level (masl). According to our SPI reconstruction, seven substantially dry and five wet periods are identified since the late seventeenth century considering ≥±1.76 standard deviations. Besides these, 36 drought and 28 pluvial years were identified. Some of these years, such as 1725, 1741, 1803, and 1879, are also revealed in other drought reconstructions in Romania and Turkey, suggesting that coherent larger-scale synoptic patterns drove these extreme deviations. Since regional drought deviations are also retained in historical documents, the tree-ring-based reconstruction presented here will allow us to cross-validate drought frequency and magnitude in a highly vulnerable region.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Spanish government (CGL2011-28255) and the government of Aragon throughout the “Program of research groups” (group Clima, Cambio Global y Sistemas Naturales, BOA 147 of 18-12-2002) and FEDER funds. Ernesto Tejedor is supported by the government of Aragon with a Ph.D. grant. Fieldwork was carried out in the province of Teruel; we are most grateful to its authorities for supporting the sampling campaigns. We are thankful to Klemen Novak, Edurne Martinez, Luis Alberto Longares, and Roberto Serrano for help during fieldwork. We thank Elaine Rowe for improving the English of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ernesto Tejedor.

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Tejedor, E., de Luis, M., Cuadrat, J.M. et al. Tree-ring-based drought reconstruction in the Iberian Range (east of Spain) since 1694. Int J Biometeorol 60, 361–372 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-015-1033-7

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Keywords

  • Dendroclimatology
  • Drought
  • SPI
  • Reconstruction
  • Iberian Range
  • Spain