Publication details

The extreme drought of 1842 in Europe as described by both documentary data and instrumental measurements

Authors

BRÁZDIL Rudolf DEMARÉE Gaston R. KISS Andrea DOBROVOLNÝ Petr CHROMÁ Kateřina TRNKA Miroslav DOLÁK Lukáš ŘEZNÍČKOVÁ Ladislava ZAHRADNÍČEK Pavel LIMANOWKA Danuta JOURDAIN Sylvie

Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Climate of the Past
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Citation
Web Full Text
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/cp-15-1861-2019
Keywords drought 1842; precipitation; drought indices; weather patterns; synoptic patterns; impacts; responses; Europe
Description Extreme droughts are weather phenomena of considerable importance, involving significant environmental and societal impacts. While those that have occurred in the comparatively recent period of instrumental measurement are identified and dated on the basis of systematic, machine-standardized meteorological and hydrological observations, droughts that took place in the pre-instrumental period are usually described only through the medium of documentary evidence. The extreme drought of 1842 in Europe presents a case in which information from documentary data can be combined with systematic instrumental observations. Seasonal, gridded European precipitation totals are used herein to describe general DJF, MAM, and JJA precipitation patterns. Annual variations in monthly temperatures and precipitation at individual stations are expressed with respect to a 1961–1990 reference period, supplemented by calculation of selected drought indices (Standardized Precipitation Index, SPI; Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index, SPEI; and Palmer Z index). The mean circulation patterns during the driest months are elucidated by means of sea-level pressure (SLP) maps, the North Atlantic Oscillation Index (NAOI), and the Central European Zonal Index (CEZI). Generally drier patterns in 1842 prevailed in January–February and at various intensities between April and August. The driest patterns in 1842 occurred in a broad zonal belt extending from France to eastern central Europe. A range of documentary data is used to describe the peculiarities of agricultural, hydrological, and socio-economic droughts, with particular attention to environmental and societal impacts and human responses to them. Although overall grain yields were not very strongly influenced, a particularly bad hay harvest, no aftermath (hay from a second cut), and low potato yields led to severe problems, especially for those who raised cattle. Finally, the 1842 drought is discussed in terms of long-term drought variability, European tree-ring-based scPDSI (self-calibrated Palmer Drought Severity Index) reconstruction, and the broader context of societal impacts.
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