Europe is in its worst drought in 500 years, study finds

LONDON – Europe is facing its worst drought in 500 years, with two-thirds of the continent under “warning” or “alert”, a study by the European Commission has found.

Preliminary data from the European Drought Observatory found that 47% of Europe is in warning conditions, meaning there is a clear shortage of soil moisture. An additional 17% of the volume is in a dormant state, meaning the plant is under stress.

Across Europe, hot, dry conditions have threatened livestock and increased crop failure. According to the report, grain production is expected to be 16% lower than the average of the last five years. Soybean and sunflower yields are also forecast to decline by 15% and 12%, respectively.

A tractor blows up a cloud of dirt in a field.

Dry land in San Benedetto del Po, Italy on August 11.

“The severe drought that has affected many regions of Europe since the beginning of the year has been expanding and worsening since early August,” The report said.

Countries along the Mediterranean coast of Europe such as Italy, France and Spain are likely to see hot and dry conditions till November.

Maria Gabrielle, The European Union’s research commissioner said ongoing heat waves and water shortages “are putting unprecedented stress on water levels across the EU.”

Gabriel added: “We are currently experiencing a more sensitive than average bushfire season and crop production has been significantly affected. Climate change is undoubtedly more significant every year.

The report also warned that water levels in most of Europe’s rivers have dropped, with riverbeds in Germany and France drying up.

Parts of Germany’s Rhine River have completely dried up, disrupting shipping on the country’s most important inland waterway. German officials said CNN on August 12 The water level in the river had dropped “extraordinarily low”.

The water level is decreasing Artifacts uncovered from deep belowShipwrecks, remnants of world wars and “hunger stones” – rocks placed over the centuries to mark water levels during historic droughts – inscribed with warnings for future generations.

A large rock in the Elbe River, with the bridge in the background.  A deeply incised inscription is carved in what appear to be archaic characters.

Prolonged drought has lowered the Elbe River’s level to such an extent that the so-called Starvation Stone was seen in Decin, Czech Republic on August 18.

One of the oldest found in the Czech Republic, believed to date back to the 15th century. The inscription on the stone reads, “Cry if you see me.”

In early August, With more than 100 municipalities running out of drinking water, the French government was forced to set up a crisis team to deal with the drought. “There is nothing left in the pipeline,” Christophe Bechu, the environmental transition minister, said in a statement at the time. The French government has described the drought as the country’s worst ever.

In Great Britain, Garden hoses, filling paddling pools and washing cars are banned. The ban, which came into effect in southern England, came after reports that the River Thames had reached its lowest level in 17 years. a month ago, A number of forest fires have broken out in the UK following a record heatwave.

Forest fires are a problem elsewhere in Europe and thousands of people have been displaced. Over the past two months, lightning strikes and heat-related deaths have also come to light.

Severe weather is unlikely to stop. In 2020, UN agencies Annual global temperatures are projected to be at least 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial levels in each of the next five years. Another study, According to research by researchers at the University of Washington and Harvard University, the number of dangerous heat waves worldwide will at least triple by 2100.


Global temperatures are rising and have been for decades. Dive into the data and see the severity of climate change.

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