Climate model projections suggest widespread drying in the Mediterranean Basin and wetting in Fennoscandia in the coming decades largely as a consequence of greenhouse gas forcing of climate. To place these and other "Old World" climate projections into historical perspective based on more complete estimates of natural hydroclimatic variability, we have developed the "Old World Drought Atlas" (OWDA), a set of year-to-year maps of tree-ring reconstructed summer wetness and dryness over Europe and the Mediterranean Basin during the Common Era. The OWDA matches historical accounts of severe drought and wetness with a spatial completeness not previously available. In addition, megadroughts reconstructed over north-central Europe in the 11th and mid-15th centuries reinforce other evidence from North America and Asia that droughts were more severe, extensive, and prolonged over Northern Hemisphere land areas before the 20th century, with an inadequate understanding of their causes. The OWDA provides new data to determine the causes of Old World drought and wetness and attribute past climate variability to forced and/or internal variability.
Keywords: Mediterranean drying; climate change; dendroclimatology; drought atlas; greenhouse gas forcing; megadrought; tree-ring reconstruction.