Assessing the spatial signature of European climate reconstructions

Ulf Büntgen, Jörg Franke, David Frank, Rob Wilson, Fidel González-Rouco, Jan Esper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Much progress has recently been made in reconstructing European temperature variability over centuries to millennia. In contrast, there are only a few attempts at long-term precipitation and/or drought reconstruction, which are spatially less significant. Here we discuss the possibility of using climate reconstructions from tree-ring density and width to make spatially explicit estimates of European temperature and drought variability, respectively. Four experiments were performed to assess spatial field correlations of (1) parameter-specific mean reconstructions, (2) individual site reconstructions, (3) instrumental stations, and (4) model analogues. The simple mean of 4 temperature reconstructions from northern Scandinavia and high-elevation sites in the Tatra, Alps, and Pyrenees revealed a significant positive correlation (r > 0.4) with the gridded Central European summer temperature south of 55°N and west of 25° E. In contrast, the mean of 11 hydro-climatic reconstructions located between Sweden and Turkey had a significant positive correlation with only a handful of small patches scattered along an east-west corridor from the British Isles over Germany to the Baltic. The significant positive correlation increased to 71% of the European landmass between 35-70° N and 10°W-40° E when using the individual 4 temperature reconstructions instead. The 11 individual hydro-climatic reconstructions had a significant positve correlation with summer drought over only 16% of the area. The proxy-based correlation fields are greatly supported by the spatial significance of instrumental station measurements and model analogues corresponding to the initial tree-ring site locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalClimate Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate reconstruction
  • Dendroclimatology
  • Drought
  • Europe
  • Hydroclimatology
  • Precipitation
  • Temperature
  • Tree rings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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