Spatiotemporal drought variability in the Mediterranean over the last 900 years

Recent Mediterranean droughts have highlighted concerns that climate change may be contributing to observed drying trends, but natural climate variability in the region is still poorly understood. We analyze 900 years (1100–2012) of Mediterranean drought variability in the Old World Drought Atlas (OWDA), a spatiotemporal tree ring reconstruction of the June-July-August self-calibrating Palmer Drought Severity Index. In the Mediterranean, the OWDA is highly correlated with spring precipitation (April–June), the North Atlantic Oscillation (January–April), the Scandinavian Pattern (January–March), and the East Atlantic Pattern (April–June). Drought variability displays significant east-west coherence across the basin on multidecadal to centennial timescales and north-south antiphasing in the eastern Mediterranean, with a tendency for wet anomalies in the Black Sea region (e.g., Greece, Anatolia, and the Balkans) when coastal Libya, the southern Levant, and the Middle East are dry, possibly related to the North Atlantic Oscillation. Recent droughts are centered in the western Mediterranean, Greece, and the Levant.

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