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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Jun 2019

Research article | 26 Jun 2019

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

The extreme drought of 1842 in Europe as described by both documentary data and instrumental measurements

Rudolf Brázdil1, Gaston R. Demarée3, Andrea Kiss4,5, Petr Dobrovolný1, Kateřina Chromá2, Miroslav Trnka2,6, Lukáš Dolák1, Ladislava Řezníčková1,2, Pavel Zahradníček2,7, Danuta Limanowka8, and Sylvie Jourdain9 Rudolf Brázdil et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 2Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 3Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
  • 4Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
  • 5Department of Historical Auxiliary Sciences, Institute of History, University of Szeged, Hungary
  • 6Department of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Mendel University in Brno, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 7Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 8Rydla 17, Kraków, Poland
  • 9Météo-France, Direction de la Climatologie et des Services Climatiques, France

Abstract. Extreme droughts are weather phenomena of considerable importance, involving significant environmental and societal impacts. While those that have occurred in the comparatively recent period of instrumental measurement are identified and dated on the basis of systematic, machine-standardised meteorological and hydrological observations, droughts that took place in the pre-instrumental period are usually described only through the medium of documentary evidence. The extreme drought of 1842 in Europe presents a case in which information from documentary data can be combined with systematic instrumental observations. Seasonal, gridded European precipitation totals are used herein to describe general DJF, MAM and JJA precipitation patterns. Annual variations in monthly temperatures and precipitation at individual stations are expressed with respect to a 1961–1990 reference period, supplemented by calculation of selected drought indices (SPI-1, SPEI-1 and Z-index). The mean circulation patterns during the driest months are elucidated by means of SLP maps, NAO and CEZI indices. Generally drier patterns in 1842 prevailed in January–February and at various intensities between April and August. The driest patterns in 1842 occurred in a broad zonal belt extending from France to eastern central Europe. A range of documentary data is used to describe the peculiarities of agricultural, hydrological and socio-economic droughts, with particular attention to environmental and societal impacts and human responses to them. Although overall grain yields were not very strongly influenced, a particularly bad hay harvest, no aftermath (hay from a second cut), and low potato yields led to severe problems, especially for those who raised cattle. Finally, the 1842 drought is discussed in terms of long-term drought variability, European tree-ring-based scPDSI reconstruction, and the broader context of societal impacts.

Rudolf Brázdil et al.
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Rudolf Brázdil et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The paper presents analysis of the 1842 drought in Europe (except the Mediterranean) based on documentary data and instrumental records. First the meteorological background of this drought is shown (seasonal distribution of precipitation, annual variation of temperature, precipitation and drought indices, synoptic reasons) and in detail are described effects of drought in water management, agriculture and in society with particular attention to human responses.
The paper presents analysis of the 1842 drought in Europe (except the Mediterranean) based on...