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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Oct 2018

Research article | 16 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Extreme droughts and human responses to them: the Czech Lands in the pre-instrumental period

Rudolf Brázdil1,2, Petr Dobrovolný1,2, Miroslav Trnka2,3, Ladislava Řezníčková1,2, Lukáš Dolák1,2, and Oldřich Kotyza4 Rudolf Brázdil et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 2Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 3Department of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Mendel University in Brno, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 4Regional Museum, Litoměřice, Czech Republic

Abstract. The Czech Lands are particularly rich in documentary sources that help elucidate droughts in the pre-instrumental period (12th–18th centuries), together with descriptions of human responses to them. Although droughts appear less frequently before AD 1501, the documentary evidence has enabled the creation of series of seasonal and summer half-year drought indices (SPI, SPEI and Z-index) for the Czech Lands for the 1501–2017 period. Based on calculation of return period for series of drought indices, extreme droughts were selected for inclusion herein if all three indices indicated a return period of ≥20 years. For further analysis, only those from the pre-instrumental period (before AD 1804) were used. The extreme droughts selected are characterised by significantly lower values of drought indices, higher temperatures and lower precipitation totals compared to other years. The sea-level pressure patterns typically associated with extreme droughts include significantly higher pressure over Europe and significantly lower pressure over parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Extreme droughts with a return period ≥50 years are described in detail on the basis of Czech documentary evidence. A number of selected extreme droughts are reflected in other central European reconstructions derived from documentary data or tree-rings. Impacts on social life and responses to extreme droughts are summarised; analysis of fluctuations in grain prices with respect to drought receives particular attention. Finally, extreme droughts from the pre-instrumental and instrumental periods are discussed.

Rudolf Brázdil et al.
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Rudolf Brázdil et al.
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Short summary
The paper analyses extreme droughts of the pre-instrumental period (1501–1803) over the territory of the recent Czech Republic. Totally 16 droughts were selected for spring, summer and autumn each and 14 droughts for summer half-year (Apr–Sep). They are characterised by very low values of drought indices, high temperatures, low precipitation and by the influence of high pressure situations. Selected extreme droughts are described in more detail. Effect of droughts on grain prices are studied.
The paper analyses extreme droughts of the pre-instrumental period (1501–1803) over the...