Europe: Water deficits of varying intensity forecast for much of Europe

26 June 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast through February 2018 indicates a predominance of water deficits of varying severity in Western, Central, Northern Europe, and the Baltics, which may reach exceptional severity in Finland, Estonia, and Latvia. Exceptional water surpluses are forecast in western Russia, and eastern Romania and Moldova. Surpluses of lesser severity are forecast in northeastern Poland, Kaliningrad, southern Belarus, and northwestern Ukraine.

Over 60 people have perished in forest fires in central Portugal sparked by lightening and fueled by drought conditions, temperatures topping 40°C (104°F), and non-indigenous and highly flammable eucalyptus plantations. Two battalions of Portuguese soldiers assisted over 2,000 firefighters, along with water planes from Spain, France, and Italy, to battle the blaze in Pedrógão Grande.  

Drought in the Mediterranean is leading experts to warn of a spike in olive oil prices with reduced production in the region contributing to a predicted drop of 14 percent globally. The International Olive Council estimates that output will be down 50 percent in Italy, 20 percent in Greece, and 6 percent in Spain. The global price of extra virgin olive oil is up 25 percent already this year.

Coldiretti, Italy's national agricultural organization, says drought has cost the country's farmers €1 billion (US$1.12 billion) so far this year. A state of emergency has been declared in the north for Parma and Piacenza. In May, rainfall in Italy measured half the average for the month, threatening fodder, cereal, and tomato production. Even beekeeping has suffered a loss as the drought has reduced nectar blooms and forced bees to devour nest honey stores.

Many areas of France are also experiencing extremely dry conditions after low winter precipitation failed to increase groundwater levels. As of June 17, according to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, 23 departments in the country are under some level of official water restriction with 17 others being advised to voluntarily reduce consumption. 

In Belgium, drought is worrying fruit and dairy farmers. Pear and apple orchard owners are resorting to contracted irrigation to save young trees, and dairy cows are yielding less milk as grasslands dry up. Hay that would normally be reserved for winter fodder is being depleted now, which will force farmers to purchase expensive feed for winter.

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

The forecast for June through August 2017 depicts a large swath of severe to exceptional deficits from Latvia through Finland.  Extreme deficits are forecast for Belgium, the Netherlands, southern Sweden and Norway, Austria, and Italy.  Moderate to extreme deficits are forecast for Portugal, France, and Germany.  Surpluses are forecast for western Russia, eastern Poland, southern Belarus, northern Ukraine, and eastern Romania.

During September through November 2017, conditions are expected to improve for most of the region.  Exceptional deficits are forecast to persist in central Finland, and moderate drought persists in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the Balkans.  Most of Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine are forecast to return to near normal conditions.  Surpluses are expected to persist in eastern Romania.

During the December 2017 through February 2018 timeframe, moderate surpluses emerge in Germany, Czechia, Belarus, Norway, southern Sweden and Finland, Latvia, Estonia, along the Dnieper River in Ukraine, and western 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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