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Almost half of Europe at risk of drought

Nearly half of Europe is threatened by drought, according to a report by the European Commission’s science and knowledge service.

Drought in England
Drought in England

The report said that, as of Aug. 10, 2022, 47 per cent of Europe’s territory had reached a warning level for drought, while 17 per cent of surveyed regions were on full alert.

Researchers said dry conditions were related to scarce rain and a number of heatwaves from May onwards that had affected river discharges widely across Europe.

Reduced water volumes have also adversely affected the energy sector for both hydropower generation and cooling systems of other power plants.

The drought has substantially reduced yields for summer crop harvests, with corn, soybeans and sunflowers most affected, the researchers said.

“Soil moisture and vegetation stress are both severely affected,” the report said, listing over a dozen countries where drought hazard has been increasing, including Germany, France and Britain.

“The rest of Europe, already affected by drought, maintains stable severely dry conditions,” said the report.

According to the report, regions where conditions are worsening the most, are those already affected by drought in spring 2022, for example northern Italy, south-eastern France, and some areas in Hungary and Romania.

Researchers are forecasting that conditions warmer and drier than normal are likely until November in the western Euro-Mediterranean region.

“Recent precipitation (mid-August) may have alleviated drought conditions in some regions of Europe.

“However, in some areas, associated thunderstorms caused damages, losses, and may have limited the beneficial effects of precipitation,” the experts said. 

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