Droughts in Bern and Rouen from the 14th to the beginning of the 18th century derived from documentary evidence

Camenisch, Chantal; Salvisberg, Melanie (2020). Droughts in Bern and Rouen from the 14th to the beginning of the 18th century derived from documentary evidence. Climate of the past, 16(6), pp. 2173-2182. Copernicus Publications 10.5194/cp-16-2173-2020

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Droughts derive from a precipitation deficit and can also be temperature driven. They are dangerous natural hazards for human societies. Documentary data from the pre-modern and early modern times contain direct and indirect information on precipitation that allow for the production of reconstructions using historical climatology methods. For this study, two drought indices – the drought index of Bern (DIB) and the drought index of Rouen (DIR) – have been created on the basis of documentary data produced in Bern, Switzerland, and Rouen, France, respectively for the period from 1315 to 1715. These two indices have been compared to a third supra-regional drought index (SDI) for Switzerland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium that was synthesised from precipitation reconstruction based on historical climatology. The results of this study show that the documentary data from Bern mainly contain summer droughts, whereas the data from Rouen rather allow for the reconstruction of spring droughts. The comparison of the three above-mentioned indices shows that the DIB and the DIR most probably do not contain all of the actual drought events; however, they detect droughts that do not appear in the SDI. This fact suggests that more documentary data from single locations, such as historical city archives, should be examined in the future and should be added to larger reconstructions in order to obtain more complete drought reconstructions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History > Economic, Social and Environmental History

UniBE Contributor:

Camenisch, Chantal Eva Maria, Salvisberg, Melanie


900 History




Copernicus Publications




Melanie Salvisberg

Date Deposited:

25 Nov 2020 08:48

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:42

Publisher DOI:






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