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Drought in Europe 2022

  • Published
    12th Sep, 2022
Context

Europe has been burning. As a brutal drought and record-breaking heat gripped the continent this summer, crops withered and forest fires raged.

Europe is suffering through its worst drought in 500 years, says the European Drought Observatory, a service run by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.

About

The current situation

  • Almost half of Europe is experiencing a severe drought.
  • France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK are among the countries that have been exposed to the high levels of drought. 

Impact

  • Impacted agriculture and drinking water supplies
  • disruption in Europe’s waterways

Impacted crops:

  • Corn in Romania
  • Rice in Italy
  • Beans in Belgium
  • Beets and garlic in France
  • Olives in Spain

Olive Crop of Spain:

  • The Olive trees thrive in a Mediterranean climate and need a minimal amount of rain.
  • Spain produces half of the world’s olive oil.  It is often called the olive oil capital of the world.

Factors responsible for the drought

  • The currently rainfall deficit is mostly attributed to a weakened jet stream bringing moisture from Atlantic to Europe, combined with frequent heatwaves hitting all around the planet and Europe.
  • Over a couple of years, Europe has undergone dryness. The shift may be linked to a high-pressure system in the North Atlantic known as the Azores High, which has expanded as the planet has warmed.

What is The Azores High? 

  • The Azores High is a large subtropical semi-permanent centre of high atmospheric pressure typically found south of the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • Formed by dry air descending in the subtropics, the Azores High, which usually sits off Spain, has grown larger and is being pushed northwards.
  • This has brought scorching temperatures to the UK, France and the Iberian peninsula.
  • The size and intensity of the Azores high shifts year on year, driving variations in rainfall levels over the continent. 
  • As such, it's been referred to as a ‘gatekeeper of precipitation' over Europe.
  • While it usually sits off Spain, it has recently grown larger and is being pushed further north, bringing scorching temperatures to the UK, France, and the Iberian peninsula. 

 

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