October 3, 2022

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New satellite images: How severe drought is changing Europe

New satellite images: How severe drought is changing Europe

New satellite images of the Rhine River, near Dusseldorf, show the consequences of the dry summer that marked large parts of Europe.

A man walks on a dry river bed in Cologne on August 15.

The drought that has hit large parts of Europe in recent months may be the worst in 500 years. This was stated by an expert from the European Commission Research Center EC-JRC euronews earlier this week.

There was little to no heavy rain in two months in western and southern parts of Europe and central Europe. In some places the drought is severe.

Dehydration rarely comes on its own. Forest fires affected Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Greece and Croatia. A number of heat records were broken.

So far this year, 391 forest and tree fires have been recorded in Spain. They become more frequent and severe due to intense heat.

In England, where it usually rains heavily, summer is the hottest and driest in living memory. Drought has been reported in both the south and west of the country.

In Spain, the water reservoirs have dried up, and major European rivers such as the Danube, Rhine and Po have so little water that river transportation is difficult.

New satellite images are now shedding a bleak new light on the extreme situation in which Europe finds itself.

The water level is too low

The satellite images below probably show the Rhine, Europe’s most important river. The photo on the left was taken in August 2021, one year ago. The photo on the right was taken on August 13 this year, which is last Saturday.

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The pictures show how the water level in the river has decreased significantly this year than it was last year at this time. The river is used, among other things, to transport goods. Now the water level is so low that the boats have to drive with half a load to avoid getting stuck.

And UK satellite images from July last year, compared to July 2022, give a bleak impression of seriousness. The plots of land are much less green than last year at this time.

Drought on the continent affects both food production, health and wildlife – and tourism.

Tourist river hits in France

In France, almost all 96 provinces have restrictions on water use. Car washing and garden watering are prohibited.

The drought hits hard the Loire, the country’s longest river. The river passes through many of the most beautiful castles in the country, parts of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. For the same reason, it is popular with tourists.

In several places, only sandy beaches remain where the river usually flows through the land.

Now tour boats can barely sail down the river due to the record drought.

More than 100 kilometers from where the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean, sandbars are now as far as the eye can see. In several places you can walk almost on dry land from one side of the river to the other.

The water level in the river was low in the past, but this is something new, we must believe Eric Suquet, head of the hydrology department at France’s National Institute of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE).

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The French Loire River was severely affected by the severe drought.

The tributaries of the Loire have dried up completely. It is totally unique. “We have to worry about the Loire,” he told Reuters.

The situation is catastrophic for the fish population in the river. But the river also supplies cooling water to four nuclear power plants, which account for about a fifth of France’s electricity production. Many factories are now operating at reduced capacity – in a situation where Europe is facing an energy crisis.

Because of climate change

Italian rivers are also struggling. The country’s longest river, the Po River, is at its lowest since then fifties.

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The vast majority of scientists no longer have any doubt that the series of unstoppable heat waves and prolonged drought is due in part to climate change, which is now occurring faster than many expected.

The area burned by wildfires in Europe this year is also the largest on record since measurements of this kind began in 2006.

Figures from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) show that nearly 660,000 hectares have been razed. This corresponds to just over two-thirds of Rogaland County.

This week it finally rained in parts of southern Europe.

But the rainy and windy weather were also of the extreme kind. At least 12 people are said to have died in storms in Italy, Austria and France in recent days. It is said that wind gusts reached 200 km / h.

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