Drought threatens 60% of the European Union, UK

Drought conditions are affecting around 60% of the EU and the UK, exacerbated by record heat due to climate change across Europe this summer, according to a new study from the European Drought Observatory.

Why is this important: Countries like France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands are facing water shortages and river beds are drying up across Europe. The dry conditions seriously affect energy production, agriculture and river transport.

Meanwhile, many European countries are expected to experience continued dry conditions in August and September, adding “to the already very critical situation”, the European Commission’s European Drought Observatory noted in July.

  • This would “aggravate the severity of the drought and the impacts on agriculture, energy and water supply”, according to the Observatory.

The big picture: The European Drought Observatory looked at data over a 10-day period towards the end of July and found that 45% of EU territory was under drought warning conditions by the middle of the month, while 15% were on “red alert” and in severe water deficiency.

United Kingdom, where Met Office data shows England’s East Anglia, South East and South regions faced their driest July ever as a historic heatwave hit, the Britain’s Center for Ecology and Hydrology warned that drought conditions are likely to persist until October.

What they say : “Droughts have become our summer reality,” tweeted Virginijus SinkeviciusEuropean Commission Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries on Tuesday.

  • 100 municipalities in France have no running water, Rhine levels in Germany and France are so low that freight transport is threatened and the Netherlands “faces an official water shortage”, a noted Sinkevičius.
  • “Restoring nature is the best solution to change this,” he added.

What to watch: Another scorching heat wave is expected to hit parts of northwestern and central Europe this week.

  • The Met Office issued an orange heat warning for much of southern England and parts of Wales from Thursday to Sunday, on the heels of its first-ever extreme heat warning last month.
In photos: Drought devastates European landscapes
People sit on Primrose Hill in London, England, on August 9, where the grass is dry due to lack of water, as another heat wave looms. Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images via Getty Images
This photograph taken on August 9, 2022 shows a partially dried up pond near Aire-sur-Adour, in southwestern France.
A partially dried up pond near Aire-sur-Adour, in southwestern France, on August 9. The French government has activated a working group on the drought crisis. Water restrictions have been decreed in almost all of the 96 metropolitan departments. Photo: Gaizka A Iroz/AFP via Getty Images
General view of low water levels continuing along the Rhine in Bad Honnef, Germany, on August 9.
The dry bed of the Rhine in Bad Honnef, Germany, on August 9. Germany’s transport minister said some vessels were unable to cross the key waterway due to low water levels this week, that the river would have to be dredged for cargo transport, DW reports. Photo: Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Boulders in view due to drought in the river bed at Escairon, Lugo, Galicia, Spain.
Boulders in view due to drought in the river bed in Escairon, Lugo, Galicia, Spain, on August 9. Spain and Portugal are experiencing their driest climate in 1,200 years, according to new research. Photo: Carlos Castro/Europa Press via Getty Images
People walk on the parched Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris August 3 after France recorded its driest July on record.
People walk on the parched Champ de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris August 3 after France recorded its driest July on record. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images
People sit on the dry banks of the Rhine on August 3, 2022 in Cologne, Germany.
The dried up banks of the Rhine in Cologne, Germany, on August 3. The city’s Waterways and Shipping Authority said ‘abnormally low levels’ were forcing ships to reduce cargo ‘in order to navigate the river’, according to the Guardian. . Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Go further: Earth experiences top 3 hottest Julys, marked by killer heat and flash floods

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