Long term context for recent drought in northwestern Africa

Ramzi Touchan, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, David M. Meko, Said Attalah, Christopher Baisan, Ali Aloui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Anthropogenic climate change is projected to exacerbate midlatitude aridity. Here, we analyze newly developed multi-century tree-ring records for a long-term perspective on drought in Tunisia and Algeria. We use a new set of 13 Cedrus adantica and Pinus halepensis chronologies with a strong signal for warm-season drought (May-August) to generate a robust, well-validated reconstruction of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) for the period AD 1456-2002. Key features of the reconstruction reveal the magnitude of pre-instrumental droughts from the historic record. Remarkably, the most recent drought (1999-2002) appears to be the worst since at least the middle of the 15th century. This drought is consistent with the early signature of a transition to more and midlatitude conditions, as projected by general circulation models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL13705
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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