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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-64
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2019-64
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Jun 2019

Research article | 11 Jun 2019

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

Droughts in the area of Poland in recent centuries

Rajmund Przybylak1, Piotr Oliński2, Marcin Koprowski3, Janusz Filipiak4, Aleksandra Pospieszyńska1, Waldemar Chorążyczewski2, Radosław Puchałka3, and Henryk P. Dąbrowski5 Rajmund Przybylak et al.
  • 1Department of Meteorology and Climatology, Faculty of Earth Sciences, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland
  • 2Department of Medieval History, Institute of History and Archival Sciences, Faculty of History, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland
  • 3Department of Ecology and Biogeography, Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland
  • 4Department of Meteorology and Climatology, Institute of Geography, Faculty of Oceanography and Geography, University of Gdansk, Poland
  • 5Dendroarchaeological Laboratory, Archaeological Museum in Biskupin, Biskupin, Poland

Abstract. The paper presents the main features of droughts in Poland in recent centuries, including their frequency of occurrence, coverage, duration and intensity. For this purpose both proxy data (documentary and dendrochronological) and instrumental measurements of precipitation were used. The reconstructions of droughts based on all the mentioned sources of data covered the period 996–2015. Examples of megadroughts were also chosen using documentary evidence, and some of them were described.

Various documentary sources have been used to identify droughts in the area of Poland in period 1451–1800 and to estimate their intensity, spatial coverage and duration. Twenty-two local chronologies of trees (pine, oak, and fir) from Poland were taken into account for detecting negative pointer years (exceptionally narrow rings). The longest chronology covers the years 996–1986 and was constructed for eastern Pomerania. The delimitation of droughts based on instrumental data (eight long-term precipitation series) was conducted using two independent approaches. In the first approach we used the globally and nationally popular Standard Precipitation Index (SPI), which was calculated for 1-, 3-, and 24-month time scales. Thus, three categories of droughts were analysed: meteorological (SPI1), agricultural (SPI3) and hydrological (SPI24). For delimitation of droughts (dry months), the criteria used were those proposed by McKee (1993) and modified for the climate conditions of Poland by Łabędzki (2007). Droughts were divided into three categories based on the following SPI values: moderate droughts (−0.50 to −1.49), severe (−1.50 to −1.99), and extreme (≤−2.00). The second approach includes the new proposed method for distinguishing droughts and quantitatively estimating their intensity and duration.

More than one hundred droughts were found in documentary sources from the mid-15th century to the end of the 18th century, including 17 megadroughts. A greater-than-average number of droughts was observed in the second halves of the 17th century, and of the 18th century in particular. Dendrochronological data confirmed this general tendency in the mentioned period. The clearly greatest number of negative pointer years occurred in the 18th century and then in the period 1451–1500. In the period 996–2015, a total of 758 negative pointer years were recorded.

Analysis of SPI (including its lowest values, i.e. droughts) showed that the long-term frequency of droughts in Poland has been stable in the last two or three centuries. Extreme and severe droughts were most frequent in the coastal part of Poland and in Silesia. Most droughts had a duration of two months (about 60–70 %), or 3–4 months (10–20 %). Frequencies of droughts with a duration of 5 and more months were lower than 10 %. The longest droughts had a duration of 7–8 months. The frequency of droughts of all categories in Poland in the period 1722–2015 was greatest in winter. This fact should be taken into account when analysing droughts delimited using documentary evidence. In Poland in 1451–1800, in light of this sort of information, droughts in spring and summer clearly dominated, while only three winter droughts were mentioned.

The occurrence of negative pointer years (a good proxy for droughts) was compared with droughts delimited based on documentary and instrumental data. A good correspondence was found between the timing of occurrence of droughts identified using all three kinds of data (sources).

Rajmund Przybylak et al.
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The paper presents the main features of droughts in Poland in period 996–2015 based on proxy data (documentary and dendrochronological) and instrumental measurements of precipitation. More than one hundred droughts were found in documentary sources from the mid-15th century to the end of the 18th century with maximum in the second halves of the 17th and, particularly, the 18th century. The long-term frequency of droughts in Poland has been stable for the last two or three centuries.
The paper presents the main features of droughts in Poland in period 996–2015 based on proxy...
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