Assessing extreme droughts in Spain during 1750-1850 from rogation ceremonies

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Among the different meteorological hazards, droughts are those with the highest socio-economical impact on the Iberian Peninsula. Drought events have been largely studied in the instrumental period, but very little is known about the characteristics of droughts in the preinstrumental period. In this work, several series of rogation ceremonies are used to identify severe droughts within the period 1750-1850. The overlapping of the rogation series with some instrumental series served to identify some climatic characteristics of rogation ceremonies: (a) during spring, rainfall deficits needed to celebrate rogation ceremonies are smaller than in any other season; (b) the hydrological deficit in a particular region increases with the number of locations celebrating rogations simultaneously. On the other hand, it was found that between 1750-1754 and 1779-1783 are probably the driest periods of the 101 analyzed years. Both show an important number of rogations all over Iberia and during all the seasons. The most extended drought of this period occurred during the spring of 1817, affecting 15 of the 16 locations studied. This drought was influenced by the Tambora eruption (1815). The study of the climate footprint of this eruption and its comparison with similar situations in the series suggest that the spring drought of 1824 may be associated with the eruptions of the Galunggung and Usu volcanoes (1822). Further studies are required to confirm this fact and understand the atmospheric mechanisms involved.
© Author(s) 2012. CC Attribution 3.0 License. Authors are grateful to D. Wheeler who provides rainfall data from Gibraltar. This work has been financed by the Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Maritime Affairs of Spain "Salva-Sinobas project: Climatic Variability Characterization in the Iberian Peninsula during the Period 1750-1850" (ref. 200800050083542), Spanish Science and Innovation Ministry (AYA2008-04864/AYA and AYA2011-25945) and MILLENNIUM Project (European Commision, IP 017008-2).
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