The 2019 to 2020 winter across Europe was the warmest on record, with the heat not letting throughout the year. Spring proved to be hotter and drier than normal, coupled with a May heatwave. Summer has started warmly, and NASA satellite data has revealed Europe is facing a drought this year.
Data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) shows dry conditions that began in eastern Europe have migrated across the continent.
NASA said: “Tributaries and main stems of some of the continent’s rivers – such as the Elbe, Warta, and Danube – fell below normal seasonal flow.
“In late May and June, surface soil moisture and waterways in some areas rebounded a bit after heavy rain showers.
“And all of this occurred as 2020 continued to be one of the hottest years on record globally.
“In their seasonal review and forecast, C3S meteorologists predicted below-average precipitation for southern and eastern Europe in June, July, and August.”
As a result, the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor, a Group on Earth Observations initiative, has put much of central and eastern Europe and southwestern Russia under a watch for potential drought impacts on wheat production.
Scientists warn this could have ramifications for the rest of the planet.
Brian Barker, a leader of the GEOGLAM group and scientist at the University of Maryland, said: “From the global food security and agricultural commodities perspective, Europe is important because it is one of the largest wheat-producing regions in the world, and also a major maize-producing region.
“Both wheat and maize are major food security crops.ho
“The persistent rainfall deficits, combined with the above-average temperatures since winter, have negatively affected large areas across Europe, reducing forecasted crop yields compared to the five-year average in a number of countries.”
Experts have blamed the drought conditions on climate change and the heating planet.
Wolfgang Wagner, a remote sensing scientist at Technische Universität Wien, said: “In recent years, Central Europe has experienced a series of droughts caused by exceptionally stable weather patterns and high temperatures that can both be linked to climate change.
“The fact that some regions have experienced drought conditions in several consecutive years has already caused significant damage to forests (due to bark beetle infestation) and declines in groundwater levels.”