Swiss tree rings reveal warm and wet summers during medieval times

Kress, Anne; Hangartner, Sarah; Bugmann, Harald; Büntgen, Ulf; Frank, David C.; Leuenberger, Markus; Siegwolf, Rolf T.W.; Saurer, Matthias (2014). Swiss tree rings reveal warm and wet summers during medieval times. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(5), pp. 1732-1737. American Geophysical Union 10.1002/2013GL059081

grl51374.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (1MB) | Preview

We present a 1200 year drought reconstruction for the European Alpine region based on carbon isotope variations of tree rings from living larch trees and historic timber. The carbon isotope fractionation at the study site is sensitive to summer precipitation, temperature, and irradiance, resulting in a stable and high correlation with a drought index for interannual to decadal frequencies and possibly beyond (r(2)=0.58 for 1901-2004, July/August). When combining this information with maximum latewood density-derived summer temperature, a strongly reduced occurrence of summer droughts during the warm A.D. 900-1200 period is evident, coinciding with the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA), with a shift to colder and drier conditions for the subsequent centuries. The warm-wet MCA contrasts strongly with the climate of the drought-prone warm phase of the recent decades, indicating different forcing mechanism for these two warm periods and pointing to beneficial conditions for agriculture and human well-being during the MCA in this region.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Other Institutions > Teaching Staff, Faculty of Science
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute

UniBE Contributor:

Büntgen, Ulf and Leuenberger, Markus


500 Science > 530 Physics
900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




American Geophysical Union




Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2014 15:13

Last Modified:

18 Sep 2015 14:47

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:





Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback