Europe: Water surpluses ahead for Eastern Europe, deficits in the west and Scandinavia

December 1, 2016

The Big Picture
The forecast for Europe shows the predominance of water deficits for the 12-month period of August 2016 through July 2017 for much of Western Europe, southern Sweden, Finland, and western Ukraine. Water surpluses are forecast in western European Russia, northeastern Poland, and northeastern Romania.

The worst drought in 25 years in Sardinia, Italy has withered livestock pastures, impacted cereal production, and reduced the water level in Lake Omodeo - the largest body of water on the island - to 12 meters. 

Drought continues to threaten asparagus output in Granada, Spain with 2016 production already down by 30 percent.

Since the industrial era began temperatures in the Mediterranean have gone up 1.3 degrees Celsius and researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France estimate that Spain and much of the Mediterranean region could be a desert by 2100.

The Polish Ministry of Agriculture has announced a 100 million PLN (€23 million) aid package for weather-related crop damage.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month time period show the evolving conditions.

The November through January map shows the persistence of deficits in Western Europe, Sweden, and Finland, and the transition to water surplus in Eastern Europe. Primarily moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for Spain, Sardinia, northern Italy, western Austria, eastern Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, and Netherlands. Deficits may be exceptional and widespread in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and east of the White Sea in Russia.

Conditions of exceptional water surplus are expected during this period in eastern Romania, southern Belarus, northeastern Poland, and pockets of western European Russia. Surpluses of lesser severity are forecast for Lithuania, eastern Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Kosovo. The map also clearly shows surplus along the Dnieper and Dniester Rivers in Ukraine.

The February through April map indicates a retreat of exceptional deficits in Sweden and Finland with much of Finland transitioning to deficits of lesser severity while Sweden transitions to nearly normal conditions in the south and to both deficits and surpluses (shown in pink) in the central part of the country. Moderate to extreme surpluses are forecast to emerge in southern Norway.

Conditions on the Dniester River in Ukraine should return to normal but moderate surpluses will persist on the Dnieper. Surpluses will also persist, though with diminished severity, in Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and northeastern Romania. Deficits in western Austria will transition to surplus, and surpluses are expected to emerge in southern Switzerland.

Moderate to severe deficits will persist in Spain, southern France, and Sardinia. Deficits will become more severe in Portugal and eastern Bulgaria, deficits will persist in Sardinia, and deficits will emerge in western Hungary, Croatia, Albania, Greece, and throughout much of Italy.

The final forecast map – May through July – shows the emergence of widespread moderate to severe deficits throughout much of Europe and the recession of surpluses in western European Russia.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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