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Litoměřice, Czech Republic

Glaser R.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Riemann D.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Schonbein J.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Barriendos M.,University of Barcelona | And 15 more authors.
Climatic Change

The paper presents a qualitative and quantitative analysis of flood variability and forcing of major European rivers since AD 1500. We compile and investigate flood reconstructions which are based on documentary evidence for twelve Central European rivers and for eight Mediterranean rivers. Flood variability and underlying climatological causes are reconstructed by using hermeneutic approaches including critical source analysis and by applying a semi-quantitative classification scheme. The paper describes the driving climatic causes, seasonality and variability of observed flood events within the different river catchments covering the European mainland. Historical flood data are presented and recent research in the field of historical flood reconstructions is highlighted. Additionally, the character of the different flood series is discussed. A comparison of the historical flood seasonality in relation to modern distribution is given and aspects of the spatial coherence are presented. The comparative analysis points to the fact that the number of flood events is predominately triggered by regional climatic forcing, with at most only minor influence on neighbouring catchments. The only exceptions are extreme, supra-regional climatic events and conditions such as anomalous cold winters, similar to that of 1784, which affected large parts of Europe and triggered flood events in several catchments as a result of ice-break at the beginning of the annual thaw. Four periods of increased occurrence of flooding, mostly affecting Central European Rivers, have been identified; 1540-1600, 1640-1700, 1730-1790, 1790-1840. The reconstruction, compilation and analysis of European-wide flood data over the last five centuries reveal the complexity of the underlying climatological causes and the high variability of flood events in temporal and spatial dimension. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Brazdil R.,Masaryk University | Brazdil R.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Szabo P.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Dobrovolny P.,Masaryk University | And 6 more authors.
Theoretical and Applied Climatology

This paper addresses the course, extent, and impacts of a windstorm that occurred on 20–21 December 1740, in the Czech Lands. The analysis is based on documentary data included in chronicles, “books of memory”, memoirs, damage reports, urbaria, and cadastral records, as well as secondary sources. The windstorm started with a thunderstorm in the afternoon of 20 December, continued during the night, and was followed by a flood. It also appeared in documentary data from Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony, Silesia, Slovakia, and Hungary. The event may be related to a cyclone north-west of the Czech territory moving to the east with an intense western flow over central Europe. The storm did great material damage to houses, farm buildings, churches, and forests and is recorded in various documentary sources for 85 places in the Czech Lands. The windstorm had a significant influence on the development of local plantation forestry (discussed in greater detail). Judging by territorial extent and damage done, this windstorm, compared to other similar events, has been classified as “the windstorm of the eighteenth century” in the Czech Lands. This contribution demonstrates the potential of documentary evidence for the elucidation of heavy windstorms in the pre-instrumental period in Europe. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Wien Source

Wetter O.,University of Bern | Pfister C.,University of Bern | Zorita E.,Helmholtz Center Geesthacht | Wagner S.,Helmholtz Center Geesthacht | And 29 more authors.
Climatic Change

The heat waves of 2003 in Western Europe and 2010 in Russia, commonly labelled as rare climatic anomalies outside of previous experience, are often taken as harbingers of more frequent extremes in the global warming-influenced future. However, a recent reconstruction of spring-summer temperatures for WE resulted in the likelihood of significantly higher temperatures in 1540. In order to check the plausibility of this result we investigated the severity of the 1540 drought by putting forward the argument of the known soil desiccation-temperature feedback. Based on more than 300 first-hand documentary weather report sources originating from an area of 2 to 3 million km2, we show that Europe was affected by an unprecedented 11-month-long Megadrought. The estimated number of precipitation days and precipitation amount for Central and Western Europe in 1540 is significantly lower than the 100-year minima of the instrumental measurement period for spring, summer and autumn. This result is supported by independent documentary evidence about extremely low river flows and Europe-wide wild-, forest- and settlement fires. We found that an event of this severity cannot be simulated by state-of-the-art climate models. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Source

Dobrovolny P.,Masaryk University | Brazdil R.,Masaryk University | Kotyza O.,Regional Museum | Valasek H.,Moravian Land Archives
Geografie-Sbornik CGS

Extremely cold/mild winters (DJF) and extremely cold/warm summers (JJA) in the Czech Lands were derived from series of temperature indices based on documentary evidence (1500-1854) and from series of air temperatures measured at the Prague-Klementinum station (1771-2007) over the past 500 years. Altogether 24 cold winters, 23 mild winters, 18 cold summers and 21 warm summers emerged. Czech extremes were compared with the Central European temperature series and series of documentary-based temperature indices for the Low Countries, Germany and Switzerland. Analysis of composite sea level pressure fields confirms advection of cold air from the north-west (extremely cold summers) or from the east (extremely cold winters). Mild winters are related to warm airflow from the west or south-west and extremely warm summers to the influence of high pressure related to the Azores High. Spatial correlations of extremes for winters proved better than for summers. We demonstrate that documentary evidence explains temperature variability for winter better than it does for the other seasons. © 2010 The Author. Source

Dobrovolny P.,Masaryk University | Dobrovolny P.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | Brazdil R.,Masaryk University | Brazdil R.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic | And 4 more authors.
International Journal of Climatology

This contribution employs documentary-based precipitation indices and long homogenized series of precipitation totals for quantitative reconstruction of seasonal and annual precipitation in the Czech Lands (now the Czech Republic) from AD 1501. Final calibration is based on linear regression using fully independent indices and data measured during the 1804-1854 overlap period, with subsequent variance scaling. Correlation analysis demonstrates that Czech documentary indices explain a significant amount of precipitation variability in all months and seasons of the entire overlapping period. Reconstruction results are best for annual values and for autumn (SON), for which proxy and target data share 36% of common variability. The coefficient of determination for summer (June-July-August - JJA) is 35%, for spring (March-April-May - MAM) 33%, while for winter (December-January-February - DJF) it is only 26%. Verification statistics [reduction of error (RE), coefficient of efficiency (CE)] computed for early (1804-1829) and late (1830-1854) overlapping periods indicate acceptable reconstruction skill for precipitation indices in JJA and annual values. However, for the other seasons they failed in the early or late calibration period, indicating possible chronological instability of reconstruction results in MAM, SON (September-October-November), and DJF seasons. The final reconstructions are complemented with uncertainty estimates. Reconstructed Czech precipitation series do not indicate long-term trends but reveal quite high inter-annual and inter-decadal variability. Smoothed reconstructed DJF and JJA precipitation totals show the highest values in the second part of the 16th century, while the driest 30-year period occurred during the 18th century in DJF, MAM, JJA, and in annual series. Direct comparisons with two other reconstructions (tree-ring-based for southern Moravia and gridded multi-proxy for Central Europe) not only show significant correlations for a substantial part of the common period, but also disclose several periods with loss of coherence. Finally, uncertainties in reconstructions are discussed. © 2014 Royal Meteorological Society. Source

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