Europe is Fiercely Battling Drought

Europe is Fiercely Battling Drought

While most continents face the wrath of devastating hurricanes and typhoons, Europe is fiercely battling drought. El Niño has indeed come back.

“El Niño is normally associated with record-breaking temperatures at the global level. Whether this will happen in 2023 or 2024 is not yet known, but it is, I think, more likely than not,” says Carlo Buontempo, director of the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Drought Due to More Water Loss

Based on the European Drought Observatory’s analysis, over a third of Europe is under a drought warning at the moment. Ten per cent of the continent is experiencing severe drought. More water is lost than rainwater can replenish.

Scientists suggest that climate change creates extreme phenomena like more intense heatwaves which are longer in duration. It bakes the ground and makes it hard. When this happens, heavy rainfall just flows over instead of getting soaked, increasing the likelihood of flash floods.

Ice and lack of it is another urgent issue. Glaciers are diminishing at an unusual rate. This depletes major rivers and reservoirs of water restoration over time.

Major Consequences

Food production is one of several effects of drought. Farmers in Spain could face crop failures and irrecoverable losses, particularly cereal growers. Dried riverbeds and wetlands due to extreme heat can turn into a graveyard for most plants and wildlife species. Wildfires can start earlier due to parched ground and vegetation. It caused intense burning as seen last year in France, Spain, and Portugal.

Drought can also adversely affect energy security. Last year, Norway experienced problems with its hydropower output due to a lack of rainfall. France, on the other hand, needs to decrease its nuclear power output due to insufficient river water that keeps the stations cool.

Water Matters During Drought

Europe’s water problems continue to persist. Extreme temperatures melt snow, evaporate rivers and oceans, and dry up farmlands. This event has occurred since 2018, estimated entire water loss across Europe to be nearly 84 billion tonnes per year.

“A few years ago, I would never have imagined that water would be a problem here in Europe …. Now it looks like we could face problems,” said Torsten Mayer-Gürr, a study author from an Austrian university.

EurEau assessed that the continent loses around 20-25% of its drinking water due to pipe leaks. Other major problems are illegal water use and overconsumption. Climate change worsens the drought that Europe is already experiencing.

France Enforces Water Restrictions

In some parts of France, the government placed water restrictions. President Emanuel Macron embarked upon a water crisis plan this year for conserving the valuable water resource. It’s because of the peculiarly dry winter ensuing the country’s worst drought on record. This left the country’s reservoirs at 80% than normal levels at the start of March. Moreover, he warned that climate change imperilled the “end of the abundance of land and materials including water”.

Currently, the current situation is creating a conflict among French environmentalists. They clashed with authorities over propositions regarding the development of huge reservoirs. These massive cisterns are expected to help commercial agriculture businesses to prevent crop failures.

Drought Disaster in Spain

Since the end of 2022, Spain is already experiencing an extended drought according to the Spanish national weather service, AEMET. The situation intensified in the past few months. March provided only 36% of the average monthly rainfall. It persisted in April, making it possibly the most drained month ever documented in Spain.

Activist group Extinction Rebellion plugged golf courses with cement or seedlings, stating that golf courses can be better utilised by farmers. They claimed that golf courses in Spain use more water than the combined water used in Barcelona and Madrid. Additionally, they argued that a golf course hole needs 100,000 litres of water daily for field maintenance.

The United Kingdom and a large part of Europe usually enjoyed teeming fresh water. However, the return of El Niño and the disastrous impact of climate change can threaten water resources.

Image Source: Hydrosami/WikimediaCommons

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