Europe’s Drought Brings Hardship to Several Countries
Sam Berg reports on Europe’s historically dry winter which has sent many countries into a severe drought.
After a winter of high heat and record breaking temperatures, countries all across Europe are currently experiencing a devastating drought. The dry weather is having a significant impact on both people and the environment, and is causing concerns about food security and water resources.
The current drought in Europe has been caused by a combination of factors, including higher temperatures, reduced rainfall, and a lack of snowfall in winter. Climate change is also believed to be contributing to the severity of the drought, with warmer temperatures leading to more evaporation and less water available for plants and animals.
Currently, Europe is getting less than half of its average rain and snowfall. This has created a dramatic dip in river discharges across Europe and stored water volumes for hydropower and cooling systems have been at critical lows.
Some countries are in much more dire situations than others, but the problem remains widespread across Europe. Regardless of how much each country is affected by the lack of rain and snow this past winter, the impact of the drought is not just limited to the environment, but it is also affecting people’s lives and livelihoods.
Negative Effects of the Drought
Governments and organizations across Europe are taking steps to address the drought and its impacts. These measures include water conservation campaigns, restrictions on water usage, and financial support for farmers affected by the drought. Some countries are also investing in new technologies and infrastructure to help manage water resources more effectively.
Countries such as Italy, Serbia, Hungary, and Romania have experienced widespread stresses on vegetation. Sunflowers, soybeans, and grain maize have been among the crops to have been most affected by the dip in water supply. The impact of the drought is also being felt by consumers, who may face higher prices for food as a result of reduced crop yields.
France is one of the countries in Europe that relies most on rain and snowfall in order to refill water supplies and provide water for residents. But since Jan. 21 of this year, France has not seen one drop of rainfall which has “never been seen” for this time of year, according to Meteo France.
The Rhine river in the Netherlands is the river that has seen the most severe decrease in water levels. Because water distribution has become so dire in the Netherlands, commercial navigation and flood control measures have caused reductions in ship loads, more specifically in coal and oil transport.
Another river that has seen significant downsides to the drought is the Po River in Italy. The water levels of Italy’s longest river is down about 61% from its normal capacity from 2022, which is the lowest point the river has been at for the past 70 years.
Is there a resolution?
Rubén del Campo, spokesperson for the Spanish state meteorology agency Aemet, says that even a heavy influx of rain would not be able to reverse the current effects of the drought.
“The problem of drought is serious,” del Campo said. “We’ve only had half the average amount of snow. We found ourselves with waterways, lakes and reservoirs in a very critical state, and hydroelectric basins in extreme difficulty.”
The solution is simple: wait for the rain to start falling. Unfortunately, the timeline for the much needed precipitation cannot be determined.
Countries are having to re-distribute their remaining water in the best ways they can in order to maintain their supplies. It comes at the expense of reduced production of crops and plants.
Andrea Toreti, a climatologist for the European Commission, told CNN says he fears this could be the new normal.
“These conditions were rare in the past, but climate change is altering precipitation regimes over Europe and making these extremes more recurrent and intense,” Toreti said.
Explainer Journalism by Sam Berg for the Reynolds Sandbox