Backward Seasons, Droughts and Other Bioclimatic Indicators of Variability



Phenoclimatic fluctuations, biorhythms and agricultural patterns are intricately linked to the local meteorological conditions, and over time to the climate of a region. Many of these patterns were captured in the daily journal entries of diarists in the New England states of Vermont and New Hampshire in the pre-digital era. This chapter focuses on the data available from these states in the 1680–1900 time period. It presents an analysis of backward season characteristics and the concomitant influences on frost occurrences, sugar maple production and the onset of drought. The results demonstrate a unique application of historical data to reveal long-term spatial and topographic patterns. An indicator-based drought index also reveals spatio-temporal comparisons across the region, including some persistent severe droughts in the 1700s not apparent in the last century.


New England Backward season Drought Phenology Sugar maple Frost 


  1. Abner Gover diary, 1796–1856, Weare, NHGoogle Scholar
  2. Albert Mason diary, 1834–1886, Monroe and Lyman, NHGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexander Miller Diary, 17 April 1816–27 December 1836, Middlebury, VT.Google Scholar
  4. Allen Caldwell diary, February 1878–March 1879, Wheelock, VT.Google Scholar
  5. Andsager K, Kruk MC, and Spinar ML (2007) DSI-3297. CDMP COOP Summary of the Day Forts, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville North Carolina.Google Scholar
  6. Charles Mooney Diary, November 1865–May 25 1908, Alton, NH.Google Scholar
  7. Child H (1887) Part First. Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties, VT. 1764–1887, the Syracuse Journal Company, Printers and Binders, Syracuse, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Cittadini ED, de Ridder N, Peri PL and van Keulen H (2006) A method for assessing frost damage risk in sweet cherry orchards in South Patagonia. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 141: 235–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clara Doty diary, 1888, Tinmouth VT.Google Scholar
  10. Dartmouth College Meteorological register, November 1827–December 31 1890, Hanover, NH.Google Scholar
  11. Diary of Henry Allen, January 1–December 10, 1878 Craftsbury, VT.Google Scholar
  12. Doty SR and Dupigny-Giroux L-A (2005) Station History Report to the Climate Database Modernization Program of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Midwestern Regional Climate Center, 61pp. [Available from Midwestern Regional Climate Center, 2204 S. Griffith Drive, Champaign, IL 61820.]Google Scholar
  13. Dr. Peter Livingston Hoyt, personal meteorology register, 1852–1856, Wentworth, NH.Google Scholar
  14. Dupigny-Giroux L-A (2001) Towards characterizing and planning for drought in Vermont. Part I. A Climatological Perspective. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 37(3): 505–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dwinell JM (1996) Letters to Dane: November 1860–July 1862. Written by Charles Nelson Morse and Ellen Morse.Google Scholar
  16. Emory H. Jones diary, 1875–1879, 1888–1906, Windam, VTGoogle Scholar
  17. Fairbanks ET (1913) The Town of St. Johnsbury, VT. The Cowles Press, St. Johnsbury, VT, pp. 513–520.Google Scholar
  18. Hopp RJ, Varney KE and Lautzenheiser RE (1964) Late Spring and Early Fall Low Temperatures in Vermont. Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Vermont – Burlington, Vermont, June, Bulletin 639.Google Scholar
  19. Jeremy Belknap diary, 1758, Dover, NH.Google Scholar
  20. Jonathan Carpenter diary 1781–1783 Pomfret Vermont. Transcribed and edited by Miriam and Wes Herwig, Greenhills Books, Randolph Center, VT, 1994.Google Scholar
  21. Joseph & Charles Mooney Diaries, 1831–November 25 1865, Alton, NH.Google Scholar
  22. Joshua Lane diary, 1788–1829, Sanbornton, NHGoogle Scholar
  23. Landsberg H (1958) Physical Climatology, Gray Printing Co. Inc., DuBois, PA.Google Scholar
  24. Ludlum DM and the editors of Blair & Ketchum’s Country Journal (1976) The Country Journal New England Weather Book, Houghton Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  25. Matthew Patten diary, 1754–1798, Bedford, NHGoogle Scholar
  26. Miriam Newton diary, 1820–1852 Malborough, NH.Google Scholar
  27. Neuman J (1990) The 1810s in the Baltic region, 1816 in particular: Air temperatures, grain supply and mortality. Climatic Change, 17(1): 97–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (1985) Freeze Protection Methods for Crops, Factsheet 85–116.Google Scholar
  29. Rutland Daily Herald, 5 April 1873, Vol. 12, No. 288.Google Scholar
  30. Schwartz MD (1998) Green-wave phenology. Nature, 394: 839–840 (27 August).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Seneca Ladd, meteorological register,1867–1891, Meredith, NH.Google Scholar
  32. Sprague diary, 4 May–30 December 1884, Craftsbury, VT.Google Scholar
  33. Taylor FH (1956) Variation in Sugar Content of Maple Sap. Vermont Experiment Station Bulletin 587.Google Scholar
  34. The Diaries of Sally and Pamela Brown 1832–1838 [Jan.–Feb.1839] and Hyde Leslie 1887, Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Blanche Brown Bryant and Gertrude Elaine Baker (eds.), The William Bryant Foundation, Springfield, Vermont, 2nd edition, 1979.Google Scholar
  35. Thom HCS and Shaw RH (1958) Climatological analysis of freeze data for Iowa. Monthly Weather Review, 86: 251–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Thomas Chandler diary in Eleanor Hutchinson (1961) History of the Town of Wheelock, VT. Emerson Publishing Co., Rochester, Vermont.Google Scholar
  37. Thomas Johnson diary, 1761–1895, Newbury, VT.Google Scholar
  38. Thompson Z (1853) Natural History of Vermont with Numerous Engravings and an Appendix. Stacy and Jameson.Google Scholar
  39. Timothy Faulkner Diary, 1818–1821, Lancaster NHGoogle Scholar
  40. Varney A, 1861–1865, Alton, NHGoogle Scholar
  41. Wahl EW (1968) A comparison of the climate of the eastern United States during the 1830's with the current normals. Monthly Weather Review, 96(2): 73–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Weather Journal by Benjamin Wheeler, 1851–1883, East Montpelier, VT.Google Scholar
  43. Wilcox WA (1887) The Fisheries of Gloucester Mass, in May 1887, with notes on those of other localities. Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission 1887.Google Scholar
  44. Wiley HW (1885) The sugar industry of the United States. U.S. Bur. of Chem. Bull. 5.Google Scholar
  45. Wilkins MN (1871) History of Stowe to 1869. As originally published in The Vermont Historical Gazetteer, a Magazine Embracing a History of Each Town Civil, Ecclesiastical, Biographical and Military. Vol. II (Burlington, Vermont, 1871) Edited and Published by Miss A.M. Hemenway.Google Scholar
  46. Ludlum DM (1996) The Vermont Weather Book, 2nd edition, The Vermont Historical Society.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations