Europe is experiencing the worst drought in half a millennium – with devastating consequences for our environment. Only rain could help. But even that can be tricky.
According to EU experts, the current drought in Europe is probably the worst in half a millennium. “The drought appears to be the worst in at least 500 years,” said a spokesman for the European Commission in Brussels on Tuesday. This is a first assessment by the European Drought Observatory, which has yet to be confirmed by the final data at the end of the season.
In a report published on Monday, researchers found almost half of Europe was at risk of drought. As of August 10, 47 percent of the European territory was warned of drought. In addition, the condition is already alarming on 17 percent of the area. The drought has had a severe negative impact on summer crop harvests, with corn, soybeans and sunflowers being hit the hardest. The European Drought Observatory is an institution of the European Commission.
Worst drought in 500 years: crops and rivers at risk
The report also said the severe drought that has been affecting many regions of Europe since the beginning of the year has continued to spread and worsened since early August. It is related to a persistent lack of precipitation combined with a series of heat waves since May. This also affects the flow of rivers. The lower volume of water stored also has severe impacts on the energy sector, both for hydroelectric power generation and for power plant cooling systems.
In particular, the risk of drought has increased in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Romania, Hungary, northern Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Conditions have deteriorated the most in regions that were already affected by the drought in spring 2022, such as northern Italy, south-eastern France and some areas in Hungary and Romania. In the western Euro-Mediterranean region in particular, November is likely to be warmer and drier than usual.
Video: Terrifying climate study: Half of Europe threatened by drought
The experts said the recent rainfall may have alleviated the drought in some regions of Europe. In some areas, however, the associated thunderstorms would have caused damage and casualties that might have limited the beneficial effects of precipitation again. (dpa/fmü)