Extreme drought is gripping Europe, intensifying heat and fueling fires

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Thousands of people have died in Europe this summer in historic heat waves that have fueled massive forest fires. The weather is far from normal – and even a casual observer can’t help but notice something is amiss. Yet, as temperatures rise and flames scorch the barren landscape, an even more widespread and potentially devastating climate-fueled threat is wreaking havoc on the continent: extreme drought.

Months of scant rainfall and above-average temperatures have plunged the region into drought, the worst on record in some countries. This is exacerbating heat waves and fueling the threat of wildfires, destroying crops and severely impacting the economy.

Another extreme heat wave targets Europe, warns

Accordingly European Drought Observatory, almost half of Europe is in “warning” conditions, which means severe drought and a major lack of soil moisture. An additional 17 percent of Europe has reached the threshold at which vegetation is suffering, in some cases dying or thinning.

Farther afield, farmers are struggling with dry conditions.

The map above shows exceptionally dry conditions over western and central Europe, shaded brown. These colors are from satellites that have detected low evaporation in brown-shaded regions, meaning there is little groundwater available to evaporate in the first place.

Andrea Toretti, Senior Scientist at the European Drought Observatory, told Sky News The drought will be the worst in 500 years.

A dry fall and winter means groundwater is already depleted in the spring and summer. The extreme temperatures observed so far this summer, exacerbated by human-induced climate change, have helped dry up those waters.

In July, southern parts of Britain, including London, received only 10 to 20 percent of their average rainfall, and in some cases none at all. London received just one millimeter (0.04 in) of rain, compared to an average of 45 millimeters (1.77 in).

Satellite images show parks in London, green a year ago, now brown.

Britain’s Met Office, or Met, confirmed it was southern England’s driest July on record and the country’s driest since 1935.

Comparing land surface satellite images over England and northern France between this year and last year shows a major change: in the summer of 2021, much of the region was greener and greener; In 2022, the area is brown and barren.

The drought in France is one of the worst.

Météo-France, the country’s weather service, issued a bulletin saying the country had experienced its driest July on record, with total precipitation about 85 percent below average.

The drought has led to water shortages in Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Some major rivers – such as the Rhine in Germany – are becoming unsustainably shallow. Reuters Report Freight costs on the Rhine have more than quintupled, and many large ships are carrying only 30 to 40 percent of their capacity. Otherwise, it risks running down.

The Rhine is Germany’s main artery for shipping, and any disruption would affect the whole of Europe. Accordingly ReutersSome economists fear that shipping bottlenecks could reduce Germany’s GDP by half a percentage point.

One such hydrological issue has come up Creating problems in ItalyWhere is the Po River facing? Prime Minister explained as “the most serious water crisis in 70 years”. In early July, Italy declared a state of emergency in five of the most affected regions. About 17 million people, 30 percent of Italy’s population, live in river basins.

Drought is destroying rice in Italy’s risotto heartland

About 41 percent of the Po River basin is used for agriculture, which supports 3.1 million cattle (half of the country) and 6 million pigs (almost two-thirds of the national stock). According to statistics published by the European Commission. There is a drought 30 percent drop in crop production in Italy, The war in Ukraine is already leading to poor harvests as farmers plant less because of rising costs.

Wildfires are raging in Western Europe

In addition to shrinking reservoirs, the lack of rain and heat are helping to increase the risk of wildfires across Europe. A new forest fire broke out near Bordeaux in France on Thursday afternoon, prompting the evacuation of 10,000 residents. BBC Reported 1,000 firefighters were actively involved in fighting the blaze, one of several that have spread across France and the Iberian Peninsula since early July.

Fire danger is currently elevated across large parts of western Europe as another heat wave grips the region over the weekend, with high temperatures of 100 degrees (38 C) expected in central and southern France.

Copernicus, a climate monitoring service associated with the European Union, simulates As temperatures continue to rise, the risk of fires in Western Europe is increasing in the coming years.

Climate and the role of climate

The drought is both a cause and a consequence of the extremely hot summers that have plagued Europe so far. July belonged to the continent Sixth-hottest on record; It was June Second-hot.

Warmer climates dry out the landscape, which dries out the atmosphere, making it easier to heat the air. Breaking that cycle is extremely difficult, especially when the extreme weather pattern favors a ridge over Europe or the establishment of widespread high pressure. That high-pressure “heat dome” pushes inclement weather, including rain, northward, leaving Europe to bake under inescapable sunshine and unseasonable heat.

Human-caused climate change has made UK heatwaves 10 times more likely, study says

It is well known that human-caused climate change is increasing the intensity, frequency and duration of heat events and also increasing the severity and impact of droughts. The UK Met Office announced that a record heatwave occurred in mid-July, during which more than 40 weather stations exceeded the United Kingdom’s previous all-time high temperatures, nearly 10 times more likely to reach those extremes due to climate change.

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