‘New Normal’ Drought Grips Europe

The drought-depleted riverbed of the Garonne River under the Pont Des Catalans bridge in Toulouse, France
The riverbed of the Garonne River under the Pont Des Catalans bridge in Toulouse on Aug. 9, 2022. France is experiencing its worst drought since rain records began in 1959. Alain Pitton / NurPhoto via Getty Images
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More than 100 French municipalities have no running drinking water as the country enters its fourth heat wave this summer while drought tightens its grip on Europe.

Sixty percent of land in the EU and UK was under a drought warning or alert in mid-July, the European Drought Observatory said Monday. “No similar data in the last 230 years compares with the drought and heat we are experiencing this year. Then we have had storms,” Luca Mercalli, the president of the Italian Meteorological Society, told The Guardian. “These episodes are growing in frequency and intensity, exactly as forecast by climate reports over the last 30 years.”

The desiccated conditions helped fuel wildfires across the continent and are hampering agriculture in numerous regions. Low water levels also threaten to block shipping on German waterways including the Rhine River — which are being used to transport increased coal shipments as Germany scrambles to slash its consumption and reliance on Russian methane-based gas — all as global food shortages and prices rise due to the Russian war in Ukraine as well as drought elsewhere.

“This is going to be the new normal,” Nuria Hernández-Mora, co-founder of New Water Culture, told The Guardian. “Yet we continue to approve the increased use of a resource we don’t have and which is becoming scarcer.”

For a deeper dive:

Drought: The Guardian, CNN, FT; French heat wave: AP; Photos: The Guardian, The Independent; Climate Signals background: Drought, Extreme heat and heat waves, Wildfires

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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