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Winter Droughts of the Upper Rhine River Basin
Pfister, C., Weingartner, R. and Luterbacher, J. 2006. Hydrological winter droughts over the last 450 years in the Upper Rhine basin: a methodological approach. Journal des Sciences Hydrologiques 51: 966-985.

What was done
The authors identified extremely low water stages within the Upper Rhine River Basin via hydrological measurements made since 1808 at Basel, Switzerland, while "for the period prior to 1808, rocks emerging in rivers and lakes in the case of low water were used along with narrative evidence for assessing extreme events."

What was learned
Pfister et al. report that "29 severe winter droughts are documented since 1540," which events, in their words, "occurred after a succession of four months with below-average precipitation" associated with "persistent anticyclones centered over Western Europe." Of most interest to us, in this regard, was their finding that these "severe winter droughts were relatively rare in the 20th century compared to the former period, which is due to increased winter temperature and precipitation."

What it means
Over the period of time, i.e., the 20th century, when climate alarmists claim the world experienced a warming that was unprecedented over the past one to two millennia -- which extreme degree of warming is contended by them to lead to a variety of hugely negative impacts, including increasing droughts -- the three Swiss scientists determined that conditions in the Upper Rhine River Basin became less droughty in winter. And in discussing the generality of their findings, they note that "extended droughts in the winter half-year in Central Europe were more frequent, more persistent and more severe during the Little Ice Age than in the preceding 'Medieval Warm Period' and the subsequent 'warm 20th century' (Pfister, 2005)," which facts suggest a relationship that is just the opposite of what climate alarmists typically claim is the case.

Pfister, C. 2005. Weeping in the snow. The second period of Little Ice Age-type impacts, 1570-1630. In: Behringer, W., Lehmann, H. and Pfister, C. (Eds.) Kulturelle Konsequenzen der "Kleinen Eiszeit," Vandenhoeck, Gottingen, Germany, pp. 31-86.

Reviewed 5 November 2008