Is Europe heading for a drought? Satellite pictures show ground water running low after warmest winter on record and dry spring
- Europe is facing a potential shortage of water for the third year in a row
- Eastern Europe began seeing meteorological drought conditions in early spring
- Meteorologists have predicted June, July and August will see below-average rainfall
Europe is facing a potential shortage of water for the third year in a row as 2020 continues to be one of the warmest years globally.
Last winter was the warmest on record and Europe had little snow. This was followed by a spring which was also drier and warmer than normal.
In May, there was a heat wave and the forecast for summer is also set to be warm and dry.
Eastern Europe began seeing meteorological drought conditions in early spring and the conditions then spread across Europe with the dry weather, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
The map shows the groundwater wetness – a resource used for crop irrigation and drinking water – which takes longer to rebound than surface and root zone moisture
Ground level water in some areas rebounded in late May and early June when there were heavy rain showers.
C3S meteorologists have predicted June, July and August will see below-average rainfall levels for southern and eastern Europe.
The two maps show shallow groundwater storage and root zone soil moisture – the water naturally available for growing crops – in Europe at the levels measured on June 22.
They were created based on data gathered by Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow On (GRACE-FO) satellites.
The wetness percentile measures how levels of groundwater and soil moisture compare to long-term records for the months.
The dark blue areas have more water than usual and the orange and red areas have less.
The driest conditions occurring only two per cent of the time are represented by the darkest red. These conditions occur around once every 50 years.
Root zone soil moisture is water naturally available for growing crops. The darkest red areas represent dry conditions occurring only two per cent of the time (around once every 50 years)
Groundwater is a resource used for crop irrigation and drinking water, which takes longer to rebound than surface and root zone moisture.
Remote sensing scientist at Technische Universität Wien Wolfgang Wagner said: ‘In recent years, Central Europe has experienced a series of droughts caused by exceptionally stable weather patterns and high temperatures that can both be linked to climate change.
‘The fact that some regions have experienced drought conditions in several consecutive years has already caused significant damage to forests (due to bark beetle infestation) and declines in groundwater levels.’
This spring the Czech Republic reported that nearly 80 per cent of its wells were recording mild to extreme drought which some called the country’s worst drought in 500 years.
The water level in the Desna River, Ukraine, was measured a full 5 metres below normal for springtime which is its lowest point in 140 years of observations.
The water levels in Yarrow Reservoir, Lancashire, dropped to dramatic lows after temperatures soared in Britain
People bask in the sun at Margate Beach, Kent, today as temperatures soar with forecasts predicting temperatures higher than the Mediterranean coast