Europe: Water deficits forecast for Europe, esp Northern Europe

26 April 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast through December 2017 indicates a predominance of water deficits in Western, Central, and Northern Europe and the Baltics, which may reach exceptional severity in Denmark, southern Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia.

Water surpluses are forecast in Murmansk, Russia; eastern Romania; and along southern Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

The driest winter in more than 20 years has water companies in the United Kingdom warning of possible drought conditions this summer. January through March rainfall in southeastern England was 50 to 70 percent below average, according to Affinity, a water supplier in the region. Britain's Met Office, the UK's national weather service, reports that the 6-month period between October 2016 and March 2017 has been the driest since 1995 and 1996.

The German Drought Monitor soil moisture index dated April 20, 2017 indicates that much of the country is experiencing dry conditions, with severe to exceptional drought in the southern half. In a new report from the Climate Service Center Germany researchers state that climate change is affecting the hydrological cycle in the country, producing more rain in winter - rather than in spring after snowmelt - and more droughts in summer. Among the foreseen consequences: agricultural impacts, limited inland navigation, and reduced energy supply due to lack of cooling water for power plants. 

Officials in Normandy, France are concerned about lack of spring rainfall - since early April less than 10 mm (0.39 inches) has fallen. In Upper Normandy water restrictions have been in place in the Eure since March 21 and Seine-Maritime banned the filling of private swimming pools as of April 14.

Moldova declared a state of emergency, enabling military aid, as heavy and unseasonable snowfall downed 5,000 trees, caused 160 road accidents, damaged 200 cars, left 586 populated areas without power, and temporarily closed Chisinau International Airport. Moldova's Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry described the situation as "catastrophic" for agriculture, anticipating its effect on crops such as cherries, apricots, and persimmon, and an AccuWeather Meteorologist warned of "possible shortages and rationing" this summer.

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

Most noticeable in the April through June forecast is the retreat of surpluses in Eastern Europe and Western European Russia. The large pink area in western Russia indicates a forecast of both surplus and deficit as the region transitions. Deficits of varying severity are expected to prevail in much of Europe with exceptional deficits forecast for southern Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Denmark. Other countries where deficits are expected to be intense include Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia.

The July through September forecast indicates the continued presence of deficits throughout Europe though, in general, of reduced severity. However, exceptional deficits are expected to persist in Finland, and Estonia, and severe to extreme deficits in Norway, southern Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France.

The forecast for October through December indicates the persistence of primarily moderate deficits in Finland.

(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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