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Southern Europe likely to battle a summer of climate-fueled drought

Southern Europe likely to battle a summer of climate-fueled drought


A water reservoir in Spain. Photo credit: EPA-EFE / Siu Wu.

By Anders Lorenzen

Spain, Italy and France are being told to expect a summer of unprecedented drought driven by climate change.

The drought has already started with some regions suffering water shortages and farmers expecting to harvest their worst yields in decades.

Having experienced severe consecutive droughts throughout recent summers, several regions are already bone dry, and low river and reservoir levels are threatening this summer’s hydropower production.

At present Spain is set to suffer the most extreme conditions with the country already in drought conditions before the summer has properly started. Scientists predict the drought to worsen over the course of the summer. The situation is so serious that the Spanish government is already seeking EU assistance, insisting that the scale of the looming drought is so huge that it cannot be tackled with national funds alone.

Driest winter since 1959

France is emerging from its driest winter since 1959, with crisis alerts already activated in four departmental prefects. 

Portugal is also experiencing early drought, with 90% of its mainland already in drought conditions and severe drought declared in one-fifth of the country. 

In neighbouring Spain, they received less than half of the annual rain average in April. Some farmers have reported crop losses as high as 80%. This could be catastrophic for the EU’s economy as Spain is responsible for half of its production of olives and one-third of its fruit.

Governments and farmers will be hoping for a reversal of the situation, but looking at the available data it is likely that at least parts of Europe could again this year be the stage for key climate impact battles in line with what climate scientists have predicted. Yet again preparation for the inevitable has not been met with the urgency required.

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