The European Climate Megadrought – Which Happened 482 Years Ago

Essay by Eric Worrall

h/t JoNova, Patty Janson; A brutal European megadrought in 1540, during the little ice age, brings context to attempts to link the current European heatwave to global warming.

Europe’s biggest natural disaster

mirror online,by Axel Bojanowski
Updated on 07/15/2014

Eleven months of hardly any rain and extreme heat: More than 300 chronicles from all over Europe reveal the gruesome details of a gigantic catastrophe in 1540. And they show that the disaster can happen again.

The year 1539 ended with a stormy, mild westerly wind. It rained a lot in December, people fled to their homes. Little did they know how valuable the precipitation was soon to become.

Never-before-seen drought

In January 1540, a dry phase began, the likes of which Central Europe has not experienced in living memory, according to scientists who have been able to collect a huge archive of weather data. For eleven months there was hardly any precipitation, the researchers speak of a “mega drought”.

The year broke all records: Contrary to previous estimates by climate researchers, the summer of 2003 is not the hottest known – 1540 exceeded it by far, writes the international research group led by Oliver Wetter from the University of Bern in the journal “Climate Change”.

On foot through the Rhine

In the summer of 1540, people were increasingly desperate to find drinking water. Even a meter and a half under some riverbeds in Switzerland, “not a drop” was found, as the chronicler Hans Salat noted. Wells and springs that had never run dry before lay fallow. The others were strictly guarded and only served when the bell rang. Contaminated water caused thousands to die from dysentery, an inflammation of the colon.

The level of Lake Constance dropped so low that the island of Lindau was connected to the mainland in the summer of 1540, which otherwise only happens in winter at most, when the precipitation remains as snow in the mountains and flows slowly into the lake. “The lake was so small,” chroniclers wondered.

Read more (German):

The paper from Oliver Wetter;

An underestimated record breaking event – why summer 1540 was likely warmer than 2003

O. Wetter 1,2 and C. Pfister1 1 Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 2 Institute of History, Section of Economic, Social and Environmental History (WSU), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland Correspondence to: O. Wetter ( and C. Pfister (

Received: 13 June 2012 – Published in Clim.
Past Discuss.: 20 July 2012
Revised: 11 December 2012 – Accepted: 12 December 2012 – Published: 14 January 2013

Abstract. The heat of summer 2003 in Western and Central Europe was claimed to be unprecedented since the Middle Ages on the basis of grape harvest data (GHD) and late wood maximum density (MXD) data from trees in the Alps. This paper shows that the authors of these studies overlooked the fact that the heat and drought in Switzerland in 1540 likely exceeded the amplitude of the previous hottest summer of 2003, because the persistent temperature and precipitation anomaly in that year, described in an abundant and coherent body of documentary evidence, severely affected the reliability of GHD and tree-rings as proxy-indicators for temperature estimates. Spring–summer (AMJJ) temperature anomalies of 4.7 ◦C to 6.8 ◦C being significantly higher than in 2003 were assessed for 1540 from a new long Swiss GHD series (1444 to 2011). During the climax of the heat wave in early August the grapes desiccated on the vine, which caused many vine-growers to interrupt or postpone the harvest despite full grape maturity until after the next spell of rain. Likewise, the leaves of many trees withered and fell to the ground under extreme drought stress as would usually be expected in late autumn. It remains to be determined by further research whether and how far this result obtained from local analyses can be spatially extrapolated. Based on the temperature estimates for Switzerland it is assumed from a great number of coherent qualitative documentary evidence about the outstanding heat drought in 1540 that AMJJ temperatures were likely more extreme in neighbouring regions of Western and Central Europe than in 2003. Considering the significance of soil moisture deficits for record breaking heat waves, these results still need to be validated with estimated seasonal precipitation. It is concluded that biological proxy data may not properly reveal record breaking heat and drought events. Such assessments thus need to be complemented with the critical study of contemporary evidence from documentary sources which provide coherent and detailed data about weather extremes and related impacts on human, ecological and social systems.

Read more (requires email registration):

It wasn’t just 1540 – there is evidence the dry period lasted nine years, leading up to the 1540 drought.

Central Europe, 1531–1540 CE: The driest summer decade of the past five centuries?

Rudolf Brázdil 1,2, Petr Dobrovolný 1,2, Martin Bauch 3, Chantal Camenisch 4,5, Andrea Kiss 6,7, 5 Oldřich Kotyza 8, Piotr Oliński 9, Ladislava Řezníčková 1,2

1 Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
2 Global Change Research Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic 
3 Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig, Germany
10 4 Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 5Institute of History, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
6 Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria
7 Department of Historical Auxiliary Sciences, Institute of History, University of Szeged, 15 Hungary
8 Regional Museum, Litoměřice, Czech Republic
9 Institute of History and Archival Sciences, University of Toruń, Poland

Correspondence to: Rudolf Brázdil ( 20

Abstract. Based on three drought indices (SPI, SPEI, Z-index) reconstructed from the documentary evidence and instrumental records, the summers of 1531–1540 were identified as the driest summer decade during the 1501–2015 period in the Czech Lands. Based on documentary data, extended from the Czech scale to central Europe, dry patterns of various intensities (represented, for example, by dry spells, low numbers of precipitation days, very low rivers and drying-out of water sources) occurred in 1532, 1534–1536, 1538 and particularly 1540, broken by wetter or normal patterns in 1531, 1533, 1537 and 1539. Information relevant to summer droughts extracted from documentary data in central Europe were confirmed in summer precipitation totals from a multi-proxy reconstruction for Europe by Pauling et al. (2006) and further by self-calibrated summer PDSI reconstruction from tree- ring widths in OWDA by Cook et al. (2015). The summer patterns described are consistent with the distribution of sea-level pressure deviations from a modern reference period. Summer droughts were responsible for numerous negative impacts, such as bad harvests of certain crops, reduction and lack of water sources, and frequent forest fires, while in the wetter summers central Europe was affected by floods. However, there are no indications of severe impacts of multi-country or multi-year effect. Reconstructions based on documentary data indicate that the summers of 1531–1540 constitute the driest summer decade in central Europe for the past five centuries, between 1501 and 2010 CE.

Read more:

The point is, even if you believe global warming is making droughts more frequent, there is no way to prevent severe droughts from happening altogether. If a megadrought can occur during the middle of the little ice age, there is no reasonable global temperature which can prevent such events altogether.

Europeans have to be prepared for severe droughts, regardless of global CO2 levels or climate change.

Thankfully today, unlike our ancestors, we have the engineering capability to create large reservoirs to help us ride out such events.

We even have an inexpensive method to protect our water reservoirs from excess evaporation, thanks to an innovation developed in California.

Perhaps next time European leaders will be better prepared.

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August 13, 2022 10:11 pm

Ja. Ja.
They should have listened when I warned about it.

How is the drought in USA north west?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  HenryP
August 13, 2022 10:49 pm

Nothing out of the ordinary. Actually the dry season started very late in Northwest Washington. My grass was still green through most of June, where usually it’s turning brown at the end of May.

Nothing to see here.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 14, 2022 12:49 am

What about north east? Where exactly was the dust bowl drought 1932 to 1939?
Help me out please.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  HenryP
August 14, 2022 12:59 am

That was largely in the midwest and southwest, if I’m not mistaken.

Ron Long
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 14, 2022 4:01 am

Right, Jeff. The Dust Bowl was especially severe in Oklahoma, where the citizens of Oklahoma fled to greener locations. These Oklahoma refugees were referred to as “Okies”, to some a derisive term and certainly not acceptable today (the correct term today is “Republican Denier Refugees”). Just saying.

Reply to  Ron Long
August 14, 2022 5:31 am

Great. Thanks for the replies Ron and Jeff. Is there drought or drier conditions now?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  HenryP
August 14, 2022 6:58 am

The Dust Bowl covered mainly the central U.S., east of the Rocky Mountains, with the southwest being the hardest hit, but it was bad all over the central U.S.

I gave an example the other day of heatwaves in Oklahoma and the heatwave of 1934 had 50 days over 100F as of August 11, of that year, whereas, in 2022, we have had 24 days over 100F as of August 11. So this year’s heatwave is not even close to the one in 1934.

At the present time, drought seems to be mainly in Oklahoma and Texas. The Desert Southwest is getting a lot of rain, as is most of the rest of the nation.

A week or two of good rains or a tropical storm would relieve the drought in most of Oklahoma. We got good rain earlier in the season. Almost too much rain, but it hasn’t rained much during the summer. I think that’s getting ready to change soon.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 14, 2022 7:05 am

Tom. I am confused. Time flies there with you? It is only 14 August now?

Reply to  HenryP
August 14, 2022 7:07 am

Did you mean before 11 August?

Reply to  HenryP
August 14, 2022 10:43 pm

He said “as of August 11”, clearly up to and including August 11.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  PCman999
August 15, 2022 4:40 am

Yes, Henry, I was saying that through August 11 of both years, 1934 had 50 days of 100F or more, while 2022 had 24 days of 100F or more.

Here’s what I posted earlier about the subject:

Most 100 degree days, year to date thru August 11th of various years:

1934 50 days
1936 41
1980 41
2011 36
2012 32
2022 24

The reason August 11 was chosen was because that’s the day the meteorologist put this graphic on the television screen. It was a comparison of this year with previous hot years up to that day.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 14, 2022 10:12 am

If only we could have a control knob to regulate the weather & climates.

(Don’t suggest “carbon” though, because that product has already been tried and proven to be a dud.
I’m hearing too that the purveyors of the carbon knob scam could soon be facing the ire of communities all around the world for their Ponzi-esque scheming.)

Rich Lambert
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 14, 2022 1:47 pm

There was also an extend heatwave in Oklahoma in 1980. As I remember 50 days over 100 degrees F.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rich Lambert
August 15, 2022 4:49 am

See just above, Rich. The year 1980 figures prominently.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rich Lambert
August 16, 2022 4:10 am

My favorite meteorologist said yesterday that 1936 had 65 days over 100F. I don’t recall the total for 1934. Hansen said 1934 was the hottest year in the U.S, and that it was 0.5C hotter than 1998. The year 1980 was certainly a hot one, too.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 15, 2022 4:23 am

Extended into the Canadian prairies as well. My mother grew up in Saskatchewan and never referred to the 30s as the Depression, but the Dry Years.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Maureen
August 15, 2022 4:51 am

Yes, the high heat was definitely all over central North America during the 1930’s.

Michael D Smith
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 16, 2022 11:31 am

Northwest Arkansas has been hot and dry. Our pastures dried up pretty bad, We had to start feeding hay to the equines (2 mules, 2 ponies, 2 horses) and dairy goats rather than them grazing the grass. Had a few days of rain and all is well now. We should make it through the fall and winter without running out of fodder.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  HenryP
August 14, 2022 2:51 pm

I can only speak to where I live, on Whidbey Island. But no, it’s a fairly normal summer so far, in spite of the late start.

Ray Swadling
Reply to  Ron Long
August 14, 2022 8:36 am

I guess thats where James Blish got the name in his Cities in Flight series.
The inhabitants were called “Okies”.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Ray Swadling
August 15, 2022 4:55 am

Yes, a lot of Oklahomans moved to California during the 1930’s, and were referred to as “Okies”.

Okies wear the name like a badge of honor. “Okies from Muskogee” anyone?

Gen Lee Schtiff
Reply to  HenryP
August 14, 2022 12:55 am

What drought? The only drough is a lack of intelligence. Rivers flood every year. Dams release cubic miles of excessive runoff. lol

Reply to  HenryP
August 15, 2022 1:33 pm

60,000 years ago the Thames river UK was at around 50 degrees North , crocodiles swam in the river alongside hippopotamus , elephant wandered around the grasslands , humans hunted , the bones prove it , it was 6 degrees centigrade warmer than today !

Ben Vorlich
August 13, 2022 10:52 pm

The UK hasn’t built a large reservoir since Carsington Water which was filled in 1992. Construction began in 1989 the year the UK water industry was privatised. Creating a number of private monopolies supplying something we can’t live without.
No investment was the inevitable result, leakage from water mains equals domestic usage, there is minimal work done to stop these leaks but hosepipe bans are in operation in some areas again.
I know for certain there were showers in Derby between 14th July and early August. My car spent 4 months off the road waiting a manufacturer part and was returned on that date. The automatic screen wipe also was supposed to have been fixed, but those showers proved it was erratic. Some were quite heavy

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 14, 2022 12:14 am

An extra 8 million people won’t increase water demand at all. After all, it’s well known that immigrants don’t wash……

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 14, 2022 12:23 am

The last really long UK drought was 1976, when it was dry and sunny all summer…The population of the UK has gone up 12 million since then….with the same rivers and ponds.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Anthony
August 14, 2022 12:57 am

The 1976 drought started May/June 1975.We’ve had Keilder Water, Rutland Water, Llyn Brianne, Llyn Brenig and Carsington Water built since 1970 all in the top 10 for volume. But many water companies have closed smaller older reservoirs since privatisation and no new major ones started since privatisation.Mrs Thatcher had an almost certifiable belief that creating privately (eventually foreign owned) would mean more efficiency and larger investments rather than the companies being used as cash cows. Same for railways which Major completed.

Plans for new major reservoirs are met by a lot of Nimbyism but you have the choice no reservoir or a hosepipe ban regularly. Plus the fact that both Rutland and Carsington Waters which are near large population centres are very popular visitor attractions for people, the Ospreys at Rutland Water for exam[le

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 14, 2022 2:46 am

A large reservoir has been planned at Abingdon, near Oxford for decades but local nimbyism has prevented it. Presumably it will now have a much better chance of being built.

Reply to  tonyb
August 15, 2022 12:09 am

Thames Water still want it. I was told recently that a decision is still over a year off.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 14, 2022 2:44 am

Many reservoirs have been sold off, either for development or for recreation pursuits (so water can no longer be drawn from them)

Since the last reservoir was built, some 10 million people have been added to the population. Water shortages were completely predictable as were energy shortages.

The elite just can’t seem to think ahead and plan


Reply to  tonyb
August 14, 2022 5:47 am

The elite know exactly what they are doing..the commoner lives minute to minute, the elite plan generations ahead. You are seeing the plan unfold, ultimate goal reduction of commoner population to only what is needed to happily serve the elite needs…two class system, ignorant impoverished slave class and controlling wealthy elite class. Socializm/Environmentalizm fits the plan toward this end.

Reply to  meiggs
August 14, 2022 9:48 am

Robots and machinery have reduced the need for the slave class. The elites are of course reducing the excess.

Reply to  meiggs
August 16, 2022 3:09 pm

Gee, it was only a couple of hundred years back that there was an “ignorant impoverished slave class and controlling wealthy elite class”… along came the Constitution of The United States, which changed all that, and today… the wealthy elite class want that “impoverished slave class back.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 14, 2022 4:42 am

Lack of investment is more a characteristic of state owned utilities. For example, in the UK, the first result of privatizing British Telecom was a dramatic increase in investment. The problem previously was that investment counted as cash out and so added to the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement, along with welfare payments, and so was limited. Irrational, terrible accounting, but that is how it was.

The problem with the state sector is that investment is never considered on its merits in terms of return on capital. it always gets mixed up with political considerations on which technology to use – which is always subject to politics – and the insistence of the public sector unions that no investment program shall result in any job losses. Investment which results in productivity then gets subject to political challenge.

The first result of nationalizing water in the UK would be that the unions would try to ban leak elimination on the grounds that this threatens the jobs of the teams who go out and fix them. As for the shortage of water?


The task of management of public sector companies becomes not to provide the services which is their ostensible remit: its rationing. Its to manage the waiting list. You can see this in the NHS today, just as you used to be able to see it in the waiting lists for phone service in British Telecom before privatization. Or if you want another British example, they no longer, most places, have a garbage collection service. They have a service which does collect garbage, but which rations the amount and kind of garbage you are permitted to get collected.

Resident parking schemes in all London boroughs are another example.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  michel
August 15, 2022 12:39 am

Is any of that a reason to allow private monopolies to flourish?

Reply to  michel
August 15, 2022 5:21 am

Yep. And the lack of investment in the water industry has absolutely nothing to do with privatisation, in fact the public sector restraints having been removed the amount of investment has gone up.

The reason there has not been enough investment is partly the backlog of work (built up under public ownership) has swallowed everything and incompetence on the part of the regulator.

These are low risk, guaranteed income companies, therefore the return to investors should be low. The regulator has (basically) let all of the gains from private sector efficiency be taken out as dividends instead of making most of it go into long-term investment.

And this has been going on under numerous regulators for c. 40 years. So the buck ultimately stops with the government for allowing a non-functioning regulatory regime.

August 13, 2022 10:58 pm

It came at the tail end of the Sporer Minimum.

Gary Pearse
August 13, 2022 11:24 pm

Published a decade ago! So the evil consensus who knew about this and its madding crowd of useful idiots who know nothing about anything, ignored it and even doubled down on the WEF campaign to inflict deep global economic disaster, shuttering of industries, winter deaths and illness in the temperate zones, from damage to the fossil fuel industry and electric grids, joblessness, famine.

Bill Gates, Soros, Steyer, the Rockefeller Brothers, Bloomberg, Hadley Centre (UK’s poor could have used the £billion in taxpayer’s money that Dr. Betts got PM Teresa May to give out to The Clime Syndicate on her way being kicked out of office). Shame shame on all of you. You and your evil colleagues will have all this as your legacy.

John in Cairns
August 13, 2022 11:42 pm

The most common cause of mega droughts can usually be tied at least partially to periods of low sea surface temperatures because of the corresponding reduction in evaporation. In Australia, droughts usually have a lot to do with water temps in the bight.

Peta of Newark
August 14, 2022 12:23 am

Oh come on people, what is this…

What’s the word ‘mega’ doing in there – what has ‘mega’ (to do with millions upon millions) got to do with a single year event, that maybe extended 8 or 9 years prior?

How has *THAT* got anything to do with ‘Climate’

It’s more obvious that an obvious thing, being in the late stages of King Henry 8th’s reign that it was he who created that weather pattern.

He, in his sugar-addicted, thus in a constant state of belligerence, pig-headedness, magical thinking, know-it-all, dull-witted and slow/stupefied state, it was he, Henry 8 who chopped the forest of England build a War Machine – fuelled by Charcoal.

The folks in Europe, on the receiving end of Henry, felt duty bound to return his fire and chopped vast numbers of their trees and forests.

Point: There is a reason why rainforests are called Rain Forests – rain makes the forest and the forest makes the rain – a true chicken and egg situation.
Henry killed the Golden Goose, Henry chopped the water pumps that all trees are.
Henry left low Albedo bare earth that rapidly dried out where where high albedo water-logged forest once stood.
(If you want to see a ‘water pump’ in action, go visit Drax in South Yorkshire exactly now. Despite the Ridiculous Ridge and The Heatwave, Drax will be under a cloud and it will be raining in there)

And it happened all across Europe.
Because Of Henry.
Because he ate sugar. Refined sugar – it was new at that time, highly addictive, much sought after and very rare/expensive, only ‘Kings’ and the nearest/dearest cronies could afford it

Around similar time, what we now call ‘Iceland’ – was a forest of Birch trees, shore to shore, wall to wall, seashore to mountain top.
Somebody cut them and introduced sheep onto Iceland.
Now just look at it. Wrecked. And cold,
Very very cold.

There was NOTHING natural about what happened there. It was entirely man-made and the CO2 released, as it surely was, was entirely incidental.
As per now, CO2 is The Symptom, NOT THE CAUSE.

(Notice any similarities ‘tween Henry and Angry Andy?)
Also btw, what is a ‘meter‘ as in electricity meter, doing under one and a half metres of dried up river bed?

junk junk junk wrong wrong wrong – does anybody pay any attention even to what they themselves are saying, we are in a Slo-Mo car crash here and the driver is completely off his head
Anyway, stories like this here are pathetic fig leaves to try create the impression that Humans are sweet little butter-wouldn’t-melt critters that ‘care’
That things are ‘never better’
The very need to make such a declaration implies the exact opposite

Maybe people do care but Hunger & Sugar/Drug Addiction are Hard Drivers – nothing is safe should it get in the way.
That German Forest, (Rheinhardswald??) being chopped for windmills, exemplifies perfectly.
Or the Mid West US now that Brandon’s Controllers have got their magically-conceived ‘way’

Get real World – if you wanna fix a mistake, first thing you have to do is admit that one was made.
Throwing money at it is a ‘sort of’ admission but, money being money and people being people, will only work to make things worse.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 14, 2022 12:30 am

missed the edit:
PS – What is ‘More Research’ as constantly demanded and seemingly The Answer – if not a Money Pit?

Geddit? – contemporary Climate Research is making it worse.
Eisenhower predicted in 1961

Was Henry’s, equally if not worse Sugar Addicted daughter the last of his line.

Did The People realise what was going on and threw that particular family-line into the trash-can of history?

Modern Leaders – take note.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 14, 2022 6:10 am

the MSM addicted modern morons love their leaders, lambs to the slaughter. Back in the times of Henry eating sugar there was no MSM. The commoner had enough sense to realize what the real problem was. Those days are long, long gone.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 14, 2022 1:14 am

The 1540 drought was at the end of a 10 year dry period. Possibly not a Megadrought by Californian standards but pretty decent for a continent where the (north) western edge is subject to prevailing winds that normally cross a couple thousand miles of ocean. Lyon – semi-continental with alternating influences of Mediterranean climate, Limoges and Munich all average 1000+mm of rain annually.whereas London averages 625mm annually.

So a situation that causes such a water shortage when a pre-industrial population was 70 million as opposed 700+ million now was pretty mega as per common parlance

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 14, 2022 10:58 am

I’m very with you on the “mega” – language of the ignorant along with “across” and and “transportation” – the punishment of early European Australians.
I wish people would remember that Earth is round (oblate spheroid actually) not flat!!!!

August 14, 2022 12:24 am

Extremes occur most often when the jet streams are more meridional which is during cooling periods.
High pressure cells over Siberia or the Azores disrupt the normal westerly pattern.
During the 1962/63 cold winter there was very little rain. There was plenty of snow but the rain equivalent was small.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
August 14, 2022 3:45 am

Sustained summer heatwaves are positive during NAO conditions, while more meridional is negative NAO conditions.

You cannot relate winter rainfall with summer rainfall, a colder signal is drier in winter but is wetter in summer.

Matt G
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
August 14, 2022 3:30 pm

The meridional flow can be both negative or postive NAO conditions with June and July 2020 both having a slightly negative NAO. A meridional flow with positive NAO conditions gives mild/very mild and dry winter periods, but potentially heatwaves in Summer. Last winter in the UK was an example of this with high pressure and mild temperatures from the South at times.

Meridional flow from South. (postive NAO)

In Summer or Winter the zonal flow is blocked by high pressure around the mid-lattitudes with the Azores. The meridional flow is generally from the S or SW with NE or E thrown in this situation as pressure evolves and has caused the heatwave over the UK this week.

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Meridinal flow from North. (negative NAO)

In Summer or Winter the zonal flow is blocked by high pressure around the mid-lattitudes to the West or North of the region. The meridional flow is generally from the NW/N or NE/E in causing cooler Summer weather than normal or potentially very cold weather than normal in Winter.

The link below shows the NAO phases typically during Winter, but does not illustrate a meridional flow from the South or a zonal flow from the East.

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Zonal flow from West. (postive NAO)

In Summer or Winter the zonal flow reaches the UK causing Low pressure to move into Europe and beyond. This leads to windier, cooler and wet conditions in Summer, but windier, mild and wet conditions in Winter.

Zonal flow from the East. (negative NAO)

In Summer or Winter the zonal flow behaves in the opposite direction leading to potentially low pressure coming from Europe westwards. This requires blocking to the North and in Winter this usually leads to dry and cold/very cold temperatures depending on Northern and Central Europe. In Summer this usually leads to dry and warm/hot temperatures also depending on Northern and Central Europe.


I have described 4 different variations in the NAO when illustrations or information on them usually only concentrate on 2 of them. Blocking causes the zonal flow to move away from the region and the result is either meridional flow from the North or meridional flow from the South depending on the position of the block. Generally from the North leads to negative NAO and from the South leads to positive NAO.

Matt G
Reply to  Matt G
August 14, 2022 3:33 pm

“June and July 2020”, should be 2022.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Matt G
August 14, 2022 4:14 pm

June-July 2022 were fairly neutral NAO apart from the first week of June, and the only sustained heat has been under slightly positive NAO conditions. The brief Saharan plumes need negative NAO for a wavier jet stream.
Last Dec and Feb were not dry.

Matt G
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
August 14, 2022 4:50 pm

I was thinking espeically of January 2022, but there were high pressure generally over the UK and to the South for quite a while of it. I have not known a Winter like it in recent years with high pressure around the UK and to the South giving mild and dry conditions. Rainfall was much reduced during these episodes and significantly increased when the pattern changed.

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The pattern didn’t occur at first until the 14th December 2021 with it being wet before and towards the end of this month.

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Only occurred for a short time around beginning of February 2022, but indeed this month was very wet later with a pattern change.

comment image

The wavier jet stream occurred while in the meridinal positive NAO phase, in this case for the North Africian plume that arrived later for the UK on 19th July.

comment image

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
August 14, 2022 5:11 pm

The NAO went slightly negative from around the 14th July:

comment image

Matt G
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
August 14, 2022 6:27 pm

The NAO looks like it was positive until 15th July when the pattern become in place, but it indeed becomes very slightly negative.

It shows that in this case an virtually neutral NAO was good enough for the wavier form.

This week has been an example of a meridinal postive NAO phase causing a heatwave.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Matt G
August 15, 2022 6:23 am

“The NAO looks like it was positive until 15th July when the pattern become in place”

It actually weakens from the 13th which promotes the wavier form.

August 14, 2022 12:48 am

Yes, yes, yes, but that was 500 years ago.

Clearly, the modern drought is due to climate change and nothing else.

It’s not like industrialisation, modern agriculture, more people, more construction, more consumerism, etc is using more water than 500 years ago, is it?

August 14, 2022 1:04 am

Oliver Wetter from the University of Bern 
Is that his real name or is that a joke? Wetter, is, of course, the German for weather.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Alba
August 14, 2022 1:20 am

We have had weather presenter named Sara Blizzard on local TV. and there was Michael Hurricane Fish Sara rarely has to forecast snow in these parts

Reply to  Alba
August 14, 2022 6:12 am

Enter Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash…

Ulric Lyons
August 14, 2022 3:28 am

The Jovian T-square of Saturn opposite Neptune roughly in quadrature with Jupiter ordered the solar activity driving the greatest European heatwaves of 1361, 1540, 1757, 2006, and the US heatwave of 1936.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
August 14, 2022 3:29 am
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
August 14, 2022 6:25 am

Good stuff, but what’s in the cards for 2030 using planetary alignments?

I’ve read Jupiter drives the wet and dry cycles of the Sahara, seemed plausible…is planetary alignment theory a good predictive tool for pending earth climate?

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  meiggs
August 14, 2022 7:00 am

The Jovian alignments are a focus of greater heat and cold extremes, while inner planet ‘groupings’ relative to the gas giants order the noise at the scale of daily-weekly weather all the time. To predict regional climate one would have to extrapolate AMO and ENSO conditions from the solar driven NAO/AO anomalies, e.g. -NAO = increased El Nino = a drier Sahara. But weekly-monthly anomalies could still be predicted at great range with the NAO/AO predictions. I’m not sure why you need to know the weather for 2030?

Jupiter has long been associated with rain, as Zeus the ‘cloud gatherer’. A simple correlation can be made with wetter months when Jupiter is visible near the zenith at midnight. But it’s not reliable.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  meiggs
August 14, 2022 11:00 am

I would definitely predict severe Sahel drought conditions for the mid 2040’s, the mid 1970’s are a good analogue.

Burl Henry
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
August 15, 2022 3:15 pm

Ulrich Lyons:

The US heat wave of June – Sep 1936 was due to a Stalled High Pressure Weather System, not some planetary alignment

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Burl Henry
August 16, 2022 1:11 pm

That particular Jovian T-square is associated with all of greatest European heatwaves for over 700 years. Moscow and Tindouf in Algeria both broke records in July 1936, it wasn’t just a US thing.

August 14, 2022 3:49 am

Last year was relatively wet in the UK, hence griff’s tired and worn 6% wetter banter. This year is at least 6% drier!

As a mark of where the media is at

What was the 1976 heatwave and how long did it last? – The Sun

“Heatwave in 1976 was not a not a “nice hot summer” as some people argue – it was disruptive and dangerous, much like the heatwaves of today” – inews

Needless to say, the inews reporter was born well after the event…. and in today’s world lived experience trumps everything – even facts. So she’s a know nothing.

Was 1976 all it’s cracked up to be?

1976 was, according to a new report, the year when we were happiest. – BBC News

You could eat an ice cream, or sink a beer without any of today’s guilt tripping…

Fun in the sun’ photos are a dangerous distraction from the reality of climate breakdown” – The Guardian

It’s interesting that the BBC report points out:

“It was the year of the endless summer, when we danced to Abba, could walk the streets in safety, and have a good night out for a fiver and still have change.

They were happy times, as confirmed by the New Economics Foundation which has named the year as the best for quality of life, based on indicators such as crime rate, pollution levels and public sector investment.

They were climate anxiety free days. I wonder why?

Tom Halla
August 14, 2022 4:46 am

But we all know there was no bad weather before 1900, just ask Michael Mann.

August 14, 2022 6:15 am

It is irrelevant if this happened 500 odd years ago: what matters is the pattern in this century and how it is likely to develop,

There has certainly been a pattern of droughts and heatwaves this century: each of the last 5 years has seen a heatwave in the UK and most of those years record temperatures somewhere. The new 40C record beats a high set only 3 years before.

The last time the Rhine was this low was in 2018.

Last year saw record heatwaves across the Med and a new temp record for Europe… and we saw a 1 in 1,000 rain event across a wide area of the Rhine Valley.

You would have to be a fool to ignore the multiple trends in extreme weather and temperature across Europe.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  griff
August 14, 2022 8:54 am

Give it a rest, Griffy. All you ever do is cherry pick weather events, claiming a “pattern” or “trends”. Nonsense.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 14, 2022 9:53 am

He can’t, he has bills to pay and he probably gets paid by the replies and votes he gets.

Reply to  griff
August 14, 2022 10:22 am

You would have to be a fool to ignore the multiple trends in historic extreme weather and temperature across Europe the world.


Ulric Lyons
Reply to  griff
August 14, 2022 12:30 pm

England summer rainfall has increased since 1995:

comment image

Matt G
Reply to  griff
August 14, 2022 6:06 pm

The new temperature record in Europe last year was a con because it has been higher than that before in the past. High UK temperatures have been diposed off in the past above 38c. The new records are not honest and is a continuation of the global warming scam.

The European record was 50c for Seville, but was removed apparantly because of being exposed to the sun?

The temperature of 50c back in 1881 was accepted, but the 51c back in 1876 wasn’t because of exposure problems. There were no exposure problems found back in 1881 when it was screened. The reason why it was an European highest temperature for many decades.

This is nonsense because firstly it was in a stevenson screen and secondly a temperature sensor exposed to the sun heats up a very lot and a temperature in the shade of only around 30c can be nearly 50c exposed. If it was even 45c exposed, it would be much higher than 50c. Scientifically it makes no sense at all and in my view was only done because it was a record difficult to beat. When Seville does indeed record 50c probably in the future with a similar very unusual weather pattern than we can say it already did back in 1881.

Seville is the hottest place in Europe, yet has not even recorded in the top 4 highest Spanish temperatures due to these removals. La Rambla, Cordoba is only 123km away from Seville.

Temperature Location Date Recorded

47.6 °C (117.7 °F) La Rambla, Cordoba August 14, 2021
47.3 °C (117.1 °F) Montoro July 13, 2017
47.1 °C (116.8 °F) Mengibar August 11, 2012
47.0 °C (116.6 °F) Badajoz June 27, 1864 and August 1964
47.0 °C (116.6 °F) Seville August 6, 1946

Seville – Average high temperatures (1991-2020)

June 33.1c
July 36.4c
August 36.4c
September 31.8c

There is not another city in Europe with average temperatures this high in Summer.

14c higher than normal is not that difficult and wasn’t because it was recorded in the past.

The UK has had higher temperatures than this above normal when recording 39c/40c recently in July.

It does matter that mega droughts occurred 500 years ago because it gives science a chance to advance and understand cliamte. Your ilk are not interested in science, just pushing an alarmist agenda for whatever reason you have.

Pushing mutliple weather extremes are not science and the BS about 1 in 1000 are not science.

Mark BLR
Reply to  griff
August 15, 2022 5:44 am

… and how it is likely to develop

IPCC TAR (2001), WG-I report, page 91 :

But even without changes in external forcing, the climate may vary naturally, because, in a system of components with very different response times and non-linear interactions, the components are never in equilibrium and are constantly varying.

Climate varies naturally on all time-scales.

Nobody “knows” the details of how the Earth’s climate system is “likely” to develop.

“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” — Richard P. Feynman

– – – – –

Another Feynman quote that just happens to strongly “resonate” with my personal life experience.

It’s OK if it’s different for you, but be aware that not all of the 8 billion people on the planet have exactly the same set of “core beliefs” that you (singular or plural) do.

I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing … I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose — which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell. Possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.

August 14, 2022 6:20 am

From a paper over 100 yrs ago.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  mkelly
August 14, 2022 7:16 am

Thanks for the history lesson.

Alarmists need to study weather history. It would give them a new perspective (assuming they can think for themselves and are not just True Believers).

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 14, 2022 10:00 am

Alarmists don’t study. They might as well be parrots repeating what they have heard on the legacy media.
This is all determined by emotional outreach. The pitch includes outright lies and lies of omission.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Brad-DXT
August 15, 2022 5:00 am

“This is all determined by emotional outreach.”

That’s the truth!

Bruce Cobb
August 14, 2022 7:51 am

I heard that Oliver Wetter married Karen Dryer, and together they invented a special type of cannister vac. Can’t remember the name of it though.

August 14, 2022 9:21 am

Some information on past events can be found in James Marusek’s excellent summary, A Chronological Listing of Early Weather Events. It is undoubtedly only a partial listing. I am not sure whether the dates Marusek provides are based on the Gregorian Calendar. [Moving from the previously accepted Julian Calendar to the Gregorian one required jumping ahead by 11 days. Which supposedly led to many unhappy renters who demanded, “Give us back our 11 days!”]

Marusek’s entry for 1540 can be found on pp, 383 and 384.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Indur Goklany
August 14, 2022 3:49 pm
August 14, 2022 10:19 am


ncwsagency in’ the U.S. zone said
on Saturday that the harvest pros
nects in North Rhine-Westphalia,
in the British zone. are “simply
catastrophic,” because of a drought
unprecedented in the last 70 years.

1948- “DROUGHT HITS RHINE” “About 340 Dutch barges are grounded
in Germany awaiting a rise in the river to take them back to Holland”


“Old World megadroughts and pluvials during the Common Era”

Gunga Din
August 14, 2022 11:20 am

I won’t believe there was a megadrought 482 years ago until they show me the cellphone video!
(Now did did I put that sarc tag ….)

August 14, 2022 7:32 pm

The point is, even if you believe global warming is making droughts more frequent…

The global warming theory says increasing temperatures cause increased evaporation which causes more global warming which causes even more evaporation.The net result is a rise in atmospheric water vapor which can only result in more rain, not less.

So unless “The Theory” has been revised at some point in the last 50 years, increasing droughts is not a prediction it supports.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Doonman
August 15, 2022 8:25 am

“The Theory” is very flexible.
At some point it has used it to make multiple, contradictory “projections”. Which projection takes the fore at the moment depends on the most recent weather events.

August 15, 2022 12:40 pm

Jeez, who knew that back then people drove SUVs and generated electricity by burning hydrocarbons and heavy industry was spewing tons of pollutants into the air, and had their air conditioners running full blast, and……
You see folks, this is the proof positive that global warming’s cause, and ONLY cause, is human activity.

On a more serious note; was there any event – earth’s orbit or it’s spin axis angle or the sun’s activity, or other celestial event that could have caused this maga-drought??

William Haas
August 16, 2022 8:40 pm

The drought was clearly not caused by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.

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