Documentary evidence of urban droughts and their impact in the eastern Netherlands: the cases of Deventer and Zutphen, 1500–1795
Abstract. Compared to other parts of Europe, very little is known about pre-instrumental drought periods in the Netherlands. Existing reconstructions are based primarily on data from England, France, and Germany, while more precise, local studies on drought and its impact are still absent. This article thus aims to further our knowledge of droughts in the Netherlands between 1500 and 1795, by focusing specifically on drought in an urban context to provide a more precise and local idea of the impact and severity of drought. The main case studies are cities in the eastern part of the country, Deventer and Zutphen. Both cities lay in relative close proximity to each other and share similar geological and hydrological conditions, as well as extensive archives that can be used to gather documentary data regarding historical drought periods. The three primary aims of the article are: 1) to examine the potential use of documentary data from the city archives of Deventer and Zutphen for historical drought reconstruction; 2) to establish droughts for both cities on the basis of the year, month/season in which they took place, as well as ranking the droughts according to the impact-based Historical Severity Drought Scale (HSDS) and 3) to compare the data from this analysis with that of other indices. In the end, the article strengthens the need to focus on documentary data from local case studies regarding drought, not only to provide more precise local reconstructions of drought-severity compared to regional studies, but also to take into account the long-term effects on urban waterscapes and the provisioning of fresh water.
Dániel Johannes Moerman
Status: open (extended)
- RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1141', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Nov 2022 reply
Dániel Johannes Moerman
Dániel Johannes Moerman
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Paper: Documentary evidence of urban droughts and their impact in the eastern Netherlands: the cases of Deventer and Zutphen, 1500–1795
Author: Dániel Johannes Moerman
The paper describes the reconstruction of urban droughts in an indexed form for two cities in the eastern Netherlands since 1500. Based on municipal records, the author categorises urban drought events based on the Historical Severity Drought Scale. Results are then analysed with respect to differences between the cities, drought types, and sesonality. Finally the author compares the generated drought indices with three existing indices or reconstructions. This last part gives a slightly sobering view; however, I do not think that this lowers the value of the paper. Local studies are relevant, and perhaps in this case the differeces and deviations are more interesting and more instructive than the actual time series. In that sense, the paper is relevant and fits the journal. However, there are a number of comments that I would like the author to address.
1. The topic of "urban drought" may be new to many readers, and this needs to be better introduced. Is it really an "urban drought" (having impacts within the city walls, as it is said at one instance) or is it "urban information" on drought (or "urban responses" to drought - would the city respond to a rural drought)? What do these indices capture? What is actually relevant, and why? This might also relevant for future climate (an aspect which is a bit missing). Just a few more word on that would be appreciated.
2. Generally I am surprised by the large differences between the two cities in all aspects of droughts (almost no coincidence of drought years, different seasonality etc.). This seems to be an important finding that should be better discussed. For that, it would be good to show a map with the two cities and the hydrogeography. Are they in the same river catchment? Is the land use surrounding the two cities similar etc.
3. The index method, HSDS etc. is well ecplained including a critical discussion. Nevertheless, as reader I would like to know whether (in the literature) the HSDS concept has been cross-validated or cross-compared. This might also be relevant for the discussion of the comparison with other data sets (and methofds) in this paper. Just thinking about the evidence in this paper, I could imagine that, e.g., the way in which navigability is affected may vary a lot from river to river, so this part of the definition will capture differences between cities).
4. L. 199: Only nine coinciding years seem to be very little, but given the low number of drought years in total it is arguably still highly significant. Here I would expect more information: Are the most severe droghts in one city at least HSDS-2 events in the other one? Just some more quantitative evaluation would be interesting. How likely is it that two cities with same meteorological drought (probably this is almost always the case for the two cities) have different hydrological drought? (Again, questions of that sort might be relevant also for future climate).
5. Comparisons: I appreciate the three comparisons performed, although the results are perhaps a bit disappointing at first. It would also be interesting to look at the mutual comparisons of these three data sets.
6. Overall the paper is relaively long. When revising the paper, please observe length.
The Figures seem straight from Excel. Please draw them more neatly and with better x-axes. This is sometimes hard to understand (narrow lines, odd years, no tickmarks, etc.). Brush up the figures.
L. 49: "This is a trend.." What trend (unclear)?
L. 220: agricultural drought (only 1): Is this also within the city limits or are these reports referring to the rural surroundings?
Fig. 2, Zutphen: Looks visually inhomogeneous. Is this due to the source density? (if so, perhaps mark in the figure)
Fig. 2: Are these droughts per decade? This is not clear.
Fig. 3: The difference in seasonality is just huge!
L. 255 (and others): Do not start title with a number
van Loon et al. 2016 is not in the reference list
Vörösmarty et. al., 2004 is not in the reference list
(there might be more; I have not checked systematically)