Europe faces growing water crisis as winter drought worsens

2023-03-04 20:44:28
Europe faces growing water crisis as winter drought worsens

After its driest summer in 500 years, much of Europe is in the grip of a winter drought driven by climate breakdown that is prompting growing concern among governments over the water security for homes, farmers and factories across the continent.

Low water levels at Baitings reservoir in Ripponden, West Yorkshire, reveal an ancient packhorse bridge in August 2022.

A study published in January by Graz University of Technology in Austria, whose scientists used satellite data to analyse groundwater reserves, concluded that Europe has been in drought since 2018 and its water situation was now “very precarious”.

Torsten Mayer-Gürr, one of the researchers, said: “I would never have imagined that water would be a problem here in Europe, especially in Germany or Austria. We are actually getting problems with the water supply here. We have to think about this.”

The World Weather Attribution service said last year northern hemisphere drought was at least 20 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, warning that such extreme periods would become increasingly common with global heating.

Andrea Toreti, a senior scientist at the European Drought Observatory, said: “What is unusual is the recurrence of these events, because we already experienced a severe to extreme drought a year ago, and another one in 2018.

A map of current droughts in Europe from the EU’s Copernicus programme shows alerts for low rainfall or soil moisture in areas of northern and southern Spain, northern Italy and southern Germany, with almost all of France affected.

France recently recorded 32 days without significant rainfall, the longest period since records began in 1959, and the state forecaster Météo-France has said little or no precipitation of note is expected until at least the end of the month.

All of Spain has been in drought since January 2022, but water supplies in Catalonia have fallen so low that authorities this week introduced laws including a 40% reduction in water used for agriculture, a 15% reduction for industrial uses, and a cut in the average daily supply per inhabitant from 250 litres to 230 litres.

Source: Guardian


Error! Error occured!