Europe is experiencing its worst drought in at least 500 years, with two-thirds of the continent under alert or warning, decreasing inland transportation, electricity output, and agriculture harvests, according to a European Union agency.
According to the August report of the European Drought Observatory (EDO), which is monitored by the European Commission, 47% of Europe is in warning conditions, with a clear lack of soil moisture, and 17% is in alert, with vegetation harmed.
“The severe drought affecting many regions of Europe since the beginning of the year has been further expanding and worsening as of early August,” the report said, adding that the western Europe-Mediterranean region was projected to see warmer and drier than average weather until November.
This summer, much of Europe had weeks of searing temperatures, which exacerbated the drought, sparked wildfires, prompted health warnings, and prompted calls for more action to combat climate change.
The present drought appeared to be the worst in at least 500 years, according to the Commission, assuming final statistics at the end of the season verified the preliminary estimate.
Summer crops have suffered, with grain maize yields predicted to be 16% lower in 2022 than the previous five-year average, and soybean and sunflower yields set to decrease 15% and 12%, respectively.
Hydropower generation has been harmed, with ramifications for other power producers due to a lack of water to feed cooling systems.
Low water levels have affected inland transportation, particularly along the Rhine, impacting coal and oil transport.
According to the EDO, mid-August rainfall may have improved circumstances, but in other cases it was accompanied by thunderstorms, causing more damage.
The drought indicator calculated by the observatory is based on observations of precipitation, soil moisture, and the fraction of solar energy received by plants for photosynthesis.