High-resolution reconstruction of drought episodes during the Dalton Solar Minimum (1790–1830) in the Spanish Mediterranean Basin
Abstract. Drought is a common climate risk in the Mediterranean region, but in connection to climate change, its frequency and severity are predicted to increase during the next century. In order to better manage future scenarios in which global warming will be superimposed to natural climate variability, the nature of droughts before industrial times should be analysed in depth. This approach takes into account a broader time scale to the study of severe droughts, allowing the identification of lower frequency droughts that happened before the instrumental period. The objective of this study is to analyse the occurrence and magnitude of the extreme droughts, with durations of more than a year, in Spain during the Dalton Solar Minimum period (1790–1830). To achieve this objective, the study takes into account the use of instrumental observations and information obtained from historical documentary sources from daily to monthly resolution. The results reveal that drought episodes were more frequent and severe during the Dalton Solar Minimum period than during the second half of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, drought episodes of similar severity were hardly seen throughout the twentieth century. Only in the current context of climate change, for the last two decades, a similar pattern of high drought severity has been identified that resembles the severity found during the Dalton Solar Minimum period (especially between 1812 and 1825). This study highlights the presence of a high variability in drought patterns during the last centuries, justifying more efforts of research on drought episodes at high temporal resolution for long time periods.
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