We present seasonal precipitation reconstructions for European land areas (30°W to 40°E/30-71°N; given on a 0.5° x 0.5° resolved grid) covering the period 1500-1900 together with gridded reanalysis from 1901 to 2000 (Mitchell and Jones 2005). Principal component regression techniques were applied to develop this dataset. A large variety of long instrumental precipitation series, precipitation ... indices based on documentary evidence and natural proxies (tree-ring chronologies, ice cores, corals and a speleothem) that are sensitive to precipitation signals were used as predictors. Transfer functions were derived over the 1901-1983 calibration period and applied to 1500-1900 in order to reconstruct the large-scale precipitation fields over Europe. The performance (quality estimation based on unresolved variance within the calibration period) of the reconstructions varies over centuries, seasons and space. Highest reconstructive skill was found for winter over central Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. Precipitation variability over the last half millennium reveals both large interannual and decadal fluctuations. Applying running correlations, we found major non-stationarities in the relation between large-scale circulation and regional precipitation. For several periods during the last 500 years, we identified key atmospheric modes for southern Spain/northern Morocco and central Europe as representations of two precipitation regimes. Using scaled composite analysis, we show that precipitation extremes over central Europe and southern Spain are linked to distinct pressure patterns. Due to its high spatial and temporal resolution, this dataset allows detailed studies of regional precipitation variability for all seasons, impact studies on different time and space scales, comparisons with high-resolution climate models as well as analysis of connections with regional temperature reconstructions.
Credit: Andreas Pauling, Jürg Luterbacher, Carlo Casty, Heinz Wanner and NOAA Paleoclimatology Program