CR 70:103-117 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01380

Documentary and instrumental-based drought indices for the Czech Lands back to AD 1501

Rudolf Brázdil1,2,*, Petr Dobrovolný1,2, Miroslav Trnka2,3, Ulf Büntgen2,4,5, Ladislava Řezníčková1,2, Oldřich Kotyza6, Hubert Valášek1,7, Petr Štĕpánek2,8

1Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic
2Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Bˇelidla 986/4a, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic
3Department of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Mendel University in Brno, Zemĕdĕlská 1, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic
4Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
5Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Falkenplatz 16, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
6Regional Museum, Dlouhá 173, 412 01 Litomĕrice, Czech Republic
7Moravian Land Archives, Palackého nám. 1, 625 00 Brno, Czech Republic
8Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Kroftova 43, 616 67 Brno, Czech Republic
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This study addresses the reconstruction of 4 slightly different drought indices in the Czech Lands (now the Czech Republic) back to 1501 AD. Reconstructed monthly temperatures for Central Europe that are representative for the Czech territory, together with reconstructed seasonal precipitation totals from the same area, are used to calculate monthly, seasonal and annual drought indices (SPI, SPEI, Z-index, and scPDSI). The resulting time series reflect interannual to multi-decadal drought variability. The driest episodes cluster around the beginning and end of the 18th century, while 1540 emerges as a particularly dry extreme year. The temperature-driven dryness of the past 3 decades is well captured by SPEI, Z-index and scPDSI, whereas precipitation totals show no significant trend during this period (as reflected in SPI). Data and methodological uncertainty associated with Czech drought indices, as well as their position in a greater European context, are critically outlined. Comparison with fir tree-rings from southern Moravia and a spatial subset of the ‘Old World Drought Atlas’ (OWDA) reveals statistically significant correlation coefficients, of around 0.40 and 0.50, respectively. This study introduces a new documentary-based approach for the robust extension of standardised drought indices back into pre-instrumental times, which we also believe has great potential in other parts of the world where high-resolution paleoclimatic insight remains limited.


KEY WORDS: Documentary evidence · Climate reconstruction · Drought variability · Extreme years · Central Europe


Full text in pdf format  
Cite this article as: Brázdil R, Dobrovolný P, Trnka M, Büntgen U and others (2016) Documentary and instrumental-based drought indices for the Czech Lands back to AD 1501. Clim Res 70:103-117. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01380

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -