Europe: Water deficits in Scandinavia

19 December 2016

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

Heavy precipitation caused fall flooding in Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania, forcing evacuations and resulting in at least two deaths in Albania.  Around 3,500 Albanian police, military, and civil authorities were engaged in rescue and evacuation as flood waters reach 50 cm deep (nearly 20 inches) on some roads. Roads and schools were closed in Galati, Romania as a precaution and flooding closed the local train station. In Montenegro 400 people were evacuated, and in Serbia several rivers overflowed.

Olive oil producers in France are expecting a mediocre harvest due to severe drought this summer, with one producer quoted as expecting one-third of his usual. Weather extremes – both too much and too little rain – have also negatively impacted projected harvests of French wheat, corn, wine grapes, and even truffles.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month time period show the evolving conditions. The December through February map illustrates the forecast of a transition in Western Europe away from deficits to near-normal conditions.

However, anomalies reaching extreme and exceptional severity are forecast for much of the rest of Europe. Though the extent of deficits in Scandinavia is forecast to diminish, extreme to exceptional deficits will persist in eastern Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia; as well as east of the White Sea in Russia, northern Netherlands, northern Germany, Denmark, and small, isolated pockets in Italy. Deficits of lesser severity are forecast for Greece.

Water surpluses are forecast for Eastern Europe which may be exceptional in northeastern Poland, southern Belarus, northern Ukraine and Odessa, and Romania. Surpluses of lesser severity are forecast for Lithuania, Kalingrad (Russia), Kosovo, and the Dnieper, Dniester, and Pivdennyy Buh Rivers in Ukraine. Exceptional surpluses are forecast in Russia at the neck formed where the Don and Volga Rivers are closest, and both surpluses and deficits are forecast where they diverge north.

The March through May map indicates a retreat of exceptional deficits in Scandinavia, 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 surpluses are forecast to emerge in southern Norway.

Aforementioned surpluses in Eastern Europe will diminish in severity, though exceptional surpluses will persist in eastern Romania and near Odessa, Ukraine, and will emerge around Kropyvnytsky, Ukraine. Surpluses of varying severity will emerge in Western European Russia encompassing a wide area from the Gulf of Finland south to Ukraine.

Moderate deficits will emerge in Portugal and Spain.

The final forecast map – June through August – indicates the recession of surpluses and the emergence of moderate deficits throughout much of Europe.

(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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