Thermal Anomalies: Europe's 2015 Summer Drought Was The Worst Since 2003

For most people, the severe drought that engulfed a larger part of the European Swathe was simply another extraordinarily hot and dry summer. After all, summers are supposed to be scorchingly hot and patched, right? What they didn't realize is that the months between June and August 2015 had been the hottest and the driest since 2003. And that also marked one of Europe's most severe drought in the modern times.

However, far from being superficial, the extreme drought and heat wave in Europe just shows how serious a problem the current global warming crisis can metamorphose to if no action is taken soon.

For starters, EU climate experts have already signaled this historic drought as a harbinger of adverse climate changes to come. In other words, this means that the desiccation of a vast tract of central and southern Europe ( as seen this summer) is one of the many signs that it's high time we braced ourselves for the far-reaching consequences of climate change.

Secondly, experts agree that the drought is consistent with the worst-case scenario that was predicted a few years ago. In Germany, for instance, the government's environmental agency issued a report citing that this year's dry spell had reached catastrophic proportions. Compared to last year, the waters of River Elbe had fallen by 9 cm recording an all-time low.

More than just a drought.

Before you dismiss the latest weather phenomenon in Europe as an ordinary or seasonal event, you might want to know that such a drought is typically followed by an equally extreme weather occurrence. And this was manifested by the freak floods in Denker, North of Magdeburg, Germany last month.

Other than that, temperatures in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and Belgium soared over 30 degrees Celsius ( 86 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale) for more than 30 days. It was even worse in Spain, where ultra-high temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) were recorded for more than 40 days.

The dire consequences of the drought.

As it usually happens, droughts of such magnitudes have momentous repercussions on food production. And the script wasn't any different in Europe where agriculture bore the full brunt of our ozone-hostile lifestyle. In Germany, for example, grain harvests declined by 11% while apple harvests reduced by 21%. The same happened in France where corn output slumped by over 28% compared to last year. All these are direct outcomes of the dwindling water reserves left in the wake of high evaporation rates and a matching low rainfall.

On the other side of the spectrum, electrical generation in most parts of Europe took a toll too. In this case, hydro-electricity production across Central Europe hit an all-time low, while a notable impact was felt in both nuclear and fossil fuel power plants, both of which rely on cooling water from rivers and dams. In fact, a good number of them were forced to shut down completely or reduce their production in a bid to maintain the river traffic as most European governments began introducing water restrictions on almost all big rivers.

Ecologists have more than once pointed fingers to the drying up of the soils coupled by the long heat waves that swept across Central Europe.

Greece was the exception. Rainfall in Greece was higher than usual. This resulted in a phenomenon described by many as a "greener Greece". Wildfires, which occur almost every day during the summer in Greece where much fewer this year.

Surprisingly, however, like the proverbial cloud with a silver lining, the drought has had some positive effects in some parts of this heavily industrialized continent. Solar energy production rose by 45% while grape farming in France and Spain flourished throughout the summer amidst the heat and parched conditions. Besides, UK holidaymakers had the time of their life savoring each and every degree of the high temperatures

What does the future hold in the light of this dry spell?

Well, it is no secret that it will take months before normal rainfall replenishes the water lost in Europe's patched soils. But even worse, EU climate experts have hinted the possibility of heavy storms gracing the European Seaboard later this year, especially considering that evaporation rates literally shot through the roof in the past few months. If this is anything to go by, then it seems as if we will now have to contend with contrasting adverse weather conditions year-in-year-out.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/27/european-extreme-weather-belt-linked-to-worst-drought-since-2003