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Klima- und Überschwemmungsgeschichte der Schweiz in einer Periode der Extreme (1450-1550)

English title History of climate and floods in Switzerland during a period of extremes (1450-1550)
Applicant Pfister Christian
Number 120157
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Abteilung für Wirtschafts-, Sozial- und Umweltgeschichte, Historisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.04.2008 - 31.03.2011
Approved amount 156'803.00
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Keywords (9)

Climate History; historical climatology; history of weather and climate; phenology; precipitation; (historical) hydrology; agricultural production; economic cycles; Switzerland

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
This PhD dissertation attempts to reconstruct the history of weather and climate during the period between 1400 and 1550 for Switzerland. The reconstruction mainly bases on different climate sensitive agricultural labour such as the beginning of hay, rye and aftergrass harvest as well as on the beginning of vintage. Such valuable socio-phenological information is contained in the accounting of the hospital of Basel. In contrast to the reconstruction of winter half year temperatures basing on indicators such as frozen rivers and lakes or the absence of ice and frost, which are relatively often mentioned in chronicles, summer half year temperatures could be reconstructed only very selectively down to the present day because relevant data was missing for this period (1400-1550) to a great extent. The new rye harvest series of Basel (1454-1523) is going to extend the already existing series for the Swiss midland (1557-1825) up to the second half of the 15th century. Together with the already existing series from the 19th and early 20th century a complete series up to 1932 can be compiled which allows to estimate and calibrate temperatures for May and June for the last 554 years. The hay and aftergrass series will be interpreted and calibrated with highly valuable phenological observations of pastor Johann Jakob Sprüngli who simultaneously ran instrumental meteorological measurements over several decades. The new vintage series completes and extends the already existing series (1480; 1495-99; 1526-1533) for about 80 years up to 1454 and allows the estimation of April to August temperatures (predominantly for May and June). Except vintage dates, tithe auction dates and grape production proved to be reliable indicators for mid summer temperatures (June, July). Further sources such as Zurich administrative accounts, tithe income of the abbey of Einsiedeln at the Lake Zurich and incomes of vines of the hospital of St. Gallen as well as further sources of the French speaking part of Switzerland will be at hand to extend the already existing series (beginning in 1529) into the 15th century. A continuation of this series up to present is possible, so that a worldwide unique 500 year enclosing series of income of vines will be the result. Basing on this series not only climatic but also economical, social and cultural influences on viniculture can be deduced. Last but not least the weekly expenditure accountings of Basel (Basler Wochenausgabenbücher) shall be evaluated concerning it´s well known information about flood indicators. A historical flood series (Rhine at Basel) reaching back to the 1450´s will be the result.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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