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A 500 year pheno-climatological view on the 2003 heatwave in Europe assessed by grape harvest dates

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In 2003, Europe was affected by a record-breaking heatwave in summer, which is statistically extremely unlikely. However, there are indications that comparably anomalous warm summers might have occurred in the more distant historical past, for instance in 1540. Dates of grape harvesting in Western Europe, starting in 1484, allow a concise assessment of growing season temperatures. The maturity of grapes strongly depends on growing season temperatures, and 84 % of the year-to-year variability is explained by April to August temperature. When reconstructing the growing season temperatures by these historical grape harvest dates, the heatwave of 2003 stands out as an extreme, not only for the instrumental period, but also during the preceding 500 years.

Im Jahr 2003 ist Europa von einem Rekordsommer getroffen worden, der statistisch als extrem unwahrscheinlich einzustufen ist. Es gibt aber auch Hinweise, dass vergleichbare, außergewöhnlich warme Sommer in der entfernteren Vergangenheit aufgetreten sein könnten, z.B. im Jahr 1540. Daten zur Weinlese in Westeuropa seit 1484 erlauben eine genaue Abschätzung der Temperaturen während der Wachstumsperiode, denn die Reife der Weintrauben hängt stark von den Temperaturen während der Vegetationsperiode ab. 84 % der interannuellen Variabilität wird von der Temperatur der Monate April bis August erklärt. Bei einer Rekonstruktion der Sommertemperaturen anhand dieser historischen Weinlesedaten zeigt sich, dass die Hitzewelle 2003 nicht nur in der instrumentellen Periode, sondern auch in den letzten 500 Jahren als ein Extrem hervorsticht.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-02-01

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