Almost half of Europe under drought warning conditions

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Almost half of the EU stays under drought conditions, an EU company has stated, with the climate set to stay hotter and drier till November.

This will compound fears about crop shortages and power provide in a continent already hit by a major discount in fuel flows from Russia.

“The combination of a severe drought and heatwaves has created an unprecedented stress on water levels in the entire EU. We are currently noticing a wildfires season . . . above the average and an important impact on crops production,” stated Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for analysis and innovation.

“Severe-to-extreme” drought conditions are evident in Italy, south-eastern and north-western France, jap Germany, jap Europe, southern Norway and huge components of the Balkans, in keeping with a report revealed on Tuesday by the EU’s Joint Research Centre.

It stated about 47 per cent of the EU was under drought warning conditions and 17 per cent in drought “alert”, which meant vegetation and crops had been affected. The report additionally warned of the “severe impacts” on the power sector, notably for hydropower vegetation that are unable to operate, and the cooling methods of different energy vegetation.

This summer season has been one of the driest on file in Europe, which scientists have stated is warming sooner than the worldwide common. Forest fires have unfold quickly throughout the continent, burning greater than 4.6 occasions the common space of land of the previous 19 years of forest hearth seasons, whereas the Alps’ glaciers have melted at a file tempo.

The imply annual temperature over the European land mass previously decade has been about 2C hotter than in the course of the pre-industrial interval, in keeping with a European Environment Agency report revealed in June, in contrast with a few 1C common globally.

The UK too has been gripped by a sustained interval of scorching and dry climate, which pushed England into a proper state of drought in August. The authorities on Tuesday introduced 10 of 14 areas had entered drought standing, including that the latest rainfall had not been sufficient to replenish rivers, groundwater and reservoirs to “normal levels”.

Such excessive lack of water and warmth stress to vegetation has lowered forecasts for this 12 months’s summer season harvest in Europe, with crops worst affected together with maize, sunflowers and soyabeans. Yield forecasts for these crops are between 12 and 16 per cent under the five-year common, the JRC knowledge confirmed.

It has additionally exacerbated power provide issues throughout the continent. Hydroelectric dams have dried up in international locations reminiscent of Portugal and in Norway, prompting the EU’s second-largest provider of pure fuel after Russia to warn that it could must curb power exports if the scenario doesn’t enhance.

Energy era from nuclear energy stations has additionally needed to be lowered as a result of of a scarcity of water to chill the reactors.

The JRC report, which is predicated on knowledge from the European Drought Observatory, warned hotter and drier conditions may final nicely into the autumn within the western Mediterranean. A return to extra regular climate “for most of Europe” may “not be enough to fully recover the deficit [of water] cumulated in more than half a year”, it stated.

The scientists added that “severely drier than normal weather conditions” had been predicted to final over western Spain, jap Portugal and alongside the Croatian coast.

The influence of forest fires has been notably acute in Portugal, the place the JRC stated the hazard of fires was “high-to-extreme over most of the country”.

Brussels on Tuesday stated it had deployed two firefighting plane for the primary time to assist Portugal struggle forest fires within the north of the nation.

Additional reporting by Camilla Hodgson in London

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