Contribution of tree-ring analysis to the study of droughts in northwestern France (XIX–XXth century)
1COSTEL LETG, UMR 6554 CNRS, Université Rennes-2, Place Recteur H. Le Moal, 35043 Rennes Cedex, France
2Civilisations Atlantiques et Archéosciences UMR 6566 CNRS, Université Rennes-1, 263 Avenue du général Leclerc, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France
3Luminescence Laboratory, Dept. Of Archaeology, University of Durham, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE / CRPAA UMR5060 IRAMAT CNRS, Université Bordeaux-3, Maison de l'Archéologie 33607 Pessac Cedex, France
Abstract. A tree-ring analysis based on oak samples in the North-West of France showed the effects of droughts periods on the growth index, during the late XIXth and XXth century. Four types of droughts were identified using the results of the tree-ring analysis and the available climate data. The "type 1" was subjected to a continuous and intense drought during all the vegetative period (spring and summer), the "type 2" was subjected to a summer drought succeeding no precipitation deficit in spring, the "type 3" was subjected to a remarkable winter drought and during the years of the "type 4", precipitation deficits were recorded for several but not successive months, over an heterogeneous spatial distribution. The long, intense and countinuous droughts clearly showed a spatial structuring effect on the growth index, especially when the two successive vegetative seasons (spring and summer) recorded strong precipitation deficits combined with shrivellings. These extreme cases involved the lowest growth index over most of the studied area, with some variations due to the altitude and exposure effects on the local-scale spatial distribution of the hydrological stress. The hydrological balance for the station of Rennes (Brittany) confirmed these results in accordance with the intensity and/or duration of drought periods: the most intense droughts of the "type 1" were especially pointed out. A climatic interpretation of growth index data and maps could so be possible over northwestern France with an application to the medieval times and perhaps to other periods, but the cause of the different drought patterns must be more precisely studied during the contemporary period (late XIXth century and all the XXth century).