Drought in Europe could face 3 more dry months, worst drought in 500 years


Image Source : AP/REPRESENTATIVE Almost half of EU regions are under drought warning, with conditions worsening in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Spain.

Regions of Europe could be facing three months of dry and hot weather as European Union is facing a major drought, which has fuelled forest fires, dried up rivers, and ruined farm harvests, the  27-nation bloc’s Earth observation program warned in a report. “Warmer and drier than usual conditions are likely to occur in the western Euro-Mediterranean region in the coming months till November 2022,” notably in Spain and Portugal, the EU’s Copernicus program said in a report for the month of August. Almost half of EU regions are under a drought warning, with conditions worsening in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. The report mentioned that rising drought has also affected neighbouring countries like Britain, Serbia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Copernicus reported that a lack of rains and a succession of heatwaves ever since May has brought about lower river levels and dry conditions.

That in turn has hit the energy sector, depriving hydroelectric and other power plants of their prime source of energy and cooling liquid. Water shortages and heat stress are also reducing European crop yields, with maize, soybeans, and sunflowers hardest hit. Recent rainfall in August has helped some regions, but crops in other areas have been battered by thunderstorms.

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Experts claim that this could be the worst drought the continent could be facing within the past 500 years. Little significant rainfall has been recorded for almost two months, but Europe isn’t alone. Drought conditions are also reported in East Africa, the western United States and northern Mexico.

Climate is exacerbating conditions as hotter temperatures speed up evaporation, thirsty plants take in more moisture and reduced snowfall in the winter limits supplies of fresh water available for irrigation in the summer.

Authorities managing the northern Po river in Italy have put the country’s longest waterway on the highest level of drought security alert. The parched conditions have already caused billions of euros in losses to farmers who rely on it to irrigate fields and rice paddies. More than 100 municipalities in France have water supply issues and drinking water is delivered by truck. More than 60 French departments are at the highest drought warning level of “crisis”. Supplies in Spain’s Andalusia and Extremadura regions are less than a third of normal, the report said.

The Rhine river is facing low enough river levels that Germany’s main industry lobby group warns that factories may have to cut production or halt it completely. The river’s plunging water levels are also hitting coal and oil transport in the Netherlands. The Danube – Europe’s second-longest river, stretching from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea in eastern Romania – has dropped to one of the lowest levels recorded in the past century.

(with AP inputs)

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