Europe, US, China: Drought has got them all

Europe, US, China: Drought has got them all
Representative image (BCCL)
  • Europe is coping with a devastating drought that hasn’t been seen in the last 500 years.
  • Significant river systems across Europe and the US have dried up, while scorching heat waves torment China.
  • Half of Europe is facing a drought, including Romania, Spain, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom, according to a report by the European Drought Observatory (EDO).
When the United Nations, last year, warned that drought would be the next pandemic to rival Covid-19 last year, not many took it seriously. However, the prophecy has come true, much earlier than anyone could have imagined. In the past few months, a climate change-driven drought has shaken up the world – significant river systems across Europe and the US have dried up, while scorching heat waves torment China.

Europe’s worst drought in 500 years

Europe is facing the worst drought in 500 years. In Italy, the Po River basin is drying up, and as many as five regions have declared a drought emergency, forcing municipalities to impose several restrictions on water use. France has also implemented similar restrictions on water usage. The Iberian Peninsula is also experiencing a challenging situation. The amount of water in Spain’s reservoirs is currently 31% less than the 10-year average.
In Portugal, hydroelectricity output is likely to be affected due to the low water levels in reservoirs. Wildfire-friendly conditions are present in both Spain and Portugal, according to the European Union. Large portions of the 966-km long Loire river in France have vanished, leaving the most valuable vineyards in the world in limbo. The River Danube, a vital shipping route that passes through ten European nations, is also in terrible shape.
According to a report released in August by the European Drought Observatory (EDO), which is under the control of the European Commission, half of Europe is under a drought warning situation as soil moisture dries out. The rest of the continent is under a state of alert as a result of problems with the vegetation drying up or dying. According to the report, drought risk has increased most significantly in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, northern Serbia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

US gets hotter, China reels

Similar conditions are being faced by the US as well. A severe and persistent drought has gripped parts of the United States, particularly in the West. For the first time in 40 years, parts of the Rio Grande ran dry in the last week of July. However, during the summer, many of these areas also experienced rare and extreme flooding, which brought a range of fiercely different rainfall extremes to the area in a matter of hours.
According to a new study by Climate Central researchers, hotter summers are likely to be the norm. It predicts that 16 US cities will have summer temperatures comparable to the Middle East, while temperatures in other US towns could rise to match that of the cities in the country’s south.
Meanwhile in China all previous records have been broken by the heatwave this summer in terms of intensity, impact, scope and duration. On August 19, a nationwide drought alert was issued because it was anticipated that the country's ongoing heatwave in the southwest would last well into September.
On August 21, China's four-tiered weather warning system for extreme heat issued a red alert for the tenth day in a row, according to the Chinese news agency People's Daily. The nation is also making efforts to lessen the effects of the extreme weather on the harvest in the fall.