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Environment and History

Storminess in the Low Countries, 1390-1725

Adriaan de Kraker

Environment and History 19 (2013): 149-171. doi: 10.3197/096734013X13642082568570

This paper looks into the historic storms of coastal Flanders and the south-western part of the Netherlands between 1390 and 1725. High quality information about these weather extremes has been retrieved from administrative documents concerning the annual maintenance of sea walls. Because the period under study deals with non-instrumental storm data, a method has been applied to assess this information, from which a picture emerges of annual storminess and of changing storminess throughout this long time period. Thus, periods of increasing and declining storm frequency can be distinguished. These fluctuations are compared with the storminess of the present period and some consideration is also given to possible links between historic storm frequency and temperature. Finally, attention is paid to the second decade of the eighteenth century, with its unusually high number of gales, and options for further research are explored.

KEYWORDS: Weather extremes, storminess, proxy data, flooding events, coastal defence, Low Countries, Little Ice Age, historical climatology

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