Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spanish droughts over past 500 years reconstructed

18.12.2008
A Spanish research group has reconstructed the pattern of droughts in Spain between 1506 and 1900 on the basis of ceremonial records held at the Cathedral of Toledo, in order to observe how droughts have varied over the past 500 years.

Short-term meteorological data and tree growth rings have also been used to supplement the records of ceremonies.

Historical documents such as the records of rogativas (ceremonies with origins dating back to Roman agricultural rites) compiled at the Cathedral of Toledo and municipal churches, have allowed researchers to gain an insight into the climatological period between 1506 and 1900 in Toledo and Madrid, particularly in regard to extreme weather events such as droughts.

After processing this information, the scientists published their work in Global and Planetary Change. Their article shows that droughts in Spain throughout most of the 16th Century were infrequent and shorter than in subsequent periods. The period between 1676 and 1710 was characterised by lower hydric stress, and the 19th Century experienced a low frequency of droughts. However, “the most severe droughts were recorded during the period from the end of the 16th Century up until the 18th Century”, Juan I. Santisteban, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) tells SINC.

The researchers discovered that “droughts were more frequent and stronger than in other periods” in the centre of the peninsula during the Little Ice Age, a period covering the time period studied. Although drought intensity was similar to present-day levels, the study was unable to clarify whether current droughts last longer than previous ones, “even though the greater demand for water today makes the lack of water seem so severe”, says Santisteban.

The study also checked the results against those obtained from other records in the Mediterranean area. “Notable differences can be observed between the frequency and duration of droughts – we find rainy periods and droughts at the same time in different parts of the Iberian Peninsula and also differences between northern and southern parts,” points out Santisteban.

The combined analysis of this drought information and of atmospheric pressure at sea level – carried out by researchers from the UCM, the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain, and the University of Barcelona – shows that periods of frequent droughts coincide with positive phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which produces prolonged anti-cyclonic conditions in the Azores. However, they add that “the topography of the Iberian Peninsula could be largely responsible for much of the heterogeneity of the drought phenomenon”.

The Church, tracking the climate

Ceremonies carried out at the Cathedral of Toledo were controlled by strict protocols set by the Church, and varied according to the gravity of meteorological conditions. In Spain, the cathedral archives of many dioceses hold relatively continuous records from the 16th Century onwards.

The data on rogativas analysed by the scientists come from three sources – the 121 volumes of capitulary records from the Cathedral of Toledo, which record daily life from 1466 to 1599, the book started by Juan Bautista de Chaves Arcayos (who summarised the capitulary books from 1434 to 1599 and incorporated his own updates), and the 331 volumes of capitulary books (1464-1914), which fill in the gaps between the capitulary records.

This series of rogativas contains 341 prayers for rain, 36 pro-serenitate prayers for fine weather, and 94 Masses of thanks (ceremonies to celebrate the ending of the climatological phenomenon that had necessitated the rogativa). Many of the rogativas were part of Spring ceremonies.

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>