Europe: Water surpluses forecast in Eastern Europe, deficits in Scandinavia

31 January 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast period from October 2016 through September 2017 indicates a predominance of water deficits for Scandinavia, the Baltics, and Western Europe, with greatest severity in Finland. Water surpluses are forecast in western European Russia, parts of Eastern Europe, and along southern Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

Heavy snow and freezing temperatures stuck many parts of Europe in January from Moscow to the Mediterranean, leading to dozens of deaths, grounding planes, causing traffic accidents, and leaving the most vulnerable at risk.

In Serbia, where snowdrifts reached three meters high (nearly 10 feet) in parts of the south, the Velika Morava River froze for the first time in 20 years and river traffic was banned on the Danube and Sava Rivers due to ice and wind. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) estimates that over 2,000 refugees are living in outdoor camps or abandoned warehouses in Belgrade, facing exposure to the severe weather, and that several people have died of hypothermia at the borders of Serbia and Bulgaria.

A blizzard temporarily isolated Braila County from the rest of Romania, and closed highways throughout the south-east as well as ports on the Black Sea. Schools were closed in Bucharest for a week, train schedules were cancelled, and domestic and international flights were disrupted.

A snowstorm cancelled hundreds of flights at Turkey’s Ataturk airport and closed shipping lanes through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits.

Lack of precipitation threatened to force more than 50 ski resorts across France’s Haute-Savoie region to switch off their snow cannons leaving skiers without snow after December was recorded as the driest in the region for more than 50 years. A mid-January snowfall after 50 days of drought saved what could have been a commercial disaster.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month time period show the evolving conditions. The January through March map reveals a pattern similar to the prior three months but with a noticeable increase in the extent of surplus in western European Russia. Surpluses are also forecast for northeastern Poland, Kaliningrad (Russia), Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, and southern Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Surpluses may be exceptional in eastern Romania and Spain.

The extent and intensity of deficits in Scandinavia, Estonia, and Latvia is forecast to diminish somewhat January through March, but extreme deficits will persist throughout Finland and in many parts of Sweden. Deficits will continue to emerge in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, with an uptick in extent and severity, and patches of exceptional deficit in northern France, Netherlands, and Denmark. Deficits are forecast to emerge in many parts of Italy during this period, with exceptional deficits persisting in Abruzzo. Extreme to exceptional deficits are expected to emerge in eastern Bulgaria.

The April through June forecast indicates a retreat of surpluses in Eastern Europe and western European Russia. Deficits in Western Europe are forecast to decrease in severity but the extent may increase, as well as in Central Europe. Also, notice the emergence of deficits in Portugal, and the presence of both deficits and surpluses (pink, purple) on southern Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Surpluses are forecast to emerge along Sweden’s western border.

The final forecast map – July through September – indicates a pattern similar to the prior three months.

(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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