Central Europe, 1531–1540 CE: The driest summer decadeof the past five centuries?

Brázdil, Rudolf; Dobrovolný, Petr; Bauch, Martin; Camenisch, Chantal; Kiss, Andrea; Kotyza, Oldřich; Oliński, Piotr; Řezníčková, Ladislava (2020). Central Europe, 1531–1540 CE: The driest summer decadeof the past five centuries? Climate of the past, 16(6), pp. 2125-2151. Copernicus Publications 10.5194/cp-16-2125-2020

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Based on three drought indices (SPI, SPEI, Z-index) reconstructed from documentary evidence and instrumental records, the summers of 1531–1540 were identified as the driest summer decade during the 1501–2015 period in the Czech Lands. Based on documentary data, extended from the Czech scale to central Europe, dry patterns of various intensities (represented, for example, by dry spells, low numbers of precipitation days, very low rivers, and drying-out of water sources) occurred in 1532, 1534–1536, 1538, and particularly 1540, broken by wetter or normal patterns in 1531, 1533, 1537, and 1539. Information relevant to summer droughts extracted from documentary data in central Europe was confirmed in summer precipitation totals from a multi-proxy reconstruction for Europe by Pauling et al. (2006) and further by self-calibrated summer Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) reconstruction from tree ring widths in Old World Drought Atlas (OWDA) by Cook et al. (2015). The summer patterns described are consistent with the distribution of sea level pressure deviations from a modern reference period. Summer droughts were responsible for numerous negative impacts, such as bad harvests of certain crops, reduction and lack of water sources, and frequent forest fires, while in the wetter summers central Europe was affected by floods. However, there are no indications of severe impacts of a multi-country or multi-year effect. Reconstructions based on documentary data indicate that the summers of 1531–1540 constitute the driest summer decade in central Europe for the past five centuries between 1501 and 2010 CE.

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


900 History
900 History > 940 History of Europe




Copernicus Publications




Chantal Eva Maria Camenisch Loretan

Date Deposited:

18 May 2021 12:36

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:50

Publisher DOI:





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