Parts of the European Union may expect three more months of warmer and drier weather as Europe deals with a significant drought that has sparked forest fires, dried up rivers, and wrecked harvests, according to a report from the EU’s Earth observation program.

“Warmer and drier than usual conditions are likely to occur in the western Euro-Mediterranean region in the coming months until November 2022,” the EU’s Copernicus program warned in an August report.

Drought warnings have been issued for nearly half of the EU’s 27 member states, with circumstances deteriorating in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. The research also cited increased drought risks outside the EU, including in the United Kingdom, Serbia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

According to Copernicus, the dry conditions and decreased river levels are the result of a lack of rain and a series of heatwaves since May. As a result, the energy sector has been impacted, depriving hydroelectric and other power facilities of their primary source of electricity and cooling liquid.

Water scarcity and heat stress are also lowering agricultural production in Europe, with maize, soybeans, and sunflowers bearing the worst of the damage. Recent rainfall in August has aided some locations, but thunderstorms have ravaged crops in others.

The news comes as scientists predict the continent’s worst drought in 500 years. For nearly two months, there has been little meaningful rainfall, but Europe is not alone. East Africa, the western United States, and northern Mexico are also experiencing drought conditions.

Hotter temperatures accelerate evaporation, thirsty plants absorb more moisture, and decreasing precipitation in the winter reduces supplies of fresh water available for irrigation in the summer.

Authorities in northern Italy have placed the country’s longest waterway on the highest degree of drought severity warning. Farmers who rely on it to irrigate farms and rice paddies have already lost billions of euros as a result of the dry circumstances.

In France, over 100 municipalities have water supply problems, and drinking water is provided by truck. More than 60 French departments have reached the “crisis” level of drought alert. According to the research, supplies in Spain’s Andalusia and Extremadura areas are less than a third of average.

Due to low water levels on the Rhine River, Germany’s biggest industry lobby organization has warned that firms may have to reduce or stop output entirely. The river’s falling water levels are also having an impact on coal and oil transport in the Netherlands.

The Danube, Europe’s second-longest river, which runs from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea in eastern Romania, has reached one of its lowest levels in a century.

Source: AP News

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