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Historical documents such as the records of rogativas (ceremonies with origins dating back to Roman agricultural rites) compiled at the Cathedral of Toledo and municipal churches,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 Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>