Europe: Water deficits to persist in Europe through September

20 July 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast through March 2018 indicates a predominance of water deficits of varying severity in Western, Central, Northern Europe, and the Baltics. Deficits are expected to be exceptional throughout Finland, in central Spain, Belgium, and in pockets throughout Europe.

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. 

Southern Europe is suffering from one of the worst droughts in decades, exacerbated by a heatwave, that is affecting agriculture and tourism in Italy, Spain, and Greece. Impacts are being felt farther north as well in France, Belgium, Germany, and Finland.

Cereal production in Italy and parts of Spain could be reduced to the lowest level in 20 years. Crop losses in Castile and Leon, the largest cereal growing region in Spain, are estimated at up to 70 percent, and almond production could drop by 23 percent. In Córdoba, Andalusia the temperature reached 45°C (113°F) in mid-July.

Firefighters battled more than 1,000 wildfires in Italy. Authorities advised tourists to avoid Mount Vesuvius near Naples as fire raged, two fires broke out near Mount Etna, and hundreds of tourists were evacuated by boat from Sicily to escape blazes. In Rome, the city's distinctive drinking fountains - the "nasoni" ("big noses') - are being turned off for the first time in history due to drought.

Officials in Greece closed the Acropolis and other archaeological sites due to extreme heat, with temperatures reaching 39°C (102°F).

Low water levels on the Danube and Rhine rivers have reduced cargo loads and increased surcharges for cargo owners.

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

As is clear in the map progression, water deficits will continue to dominate much of Europe through September but are expected to diminish significantly thereafter, leaving moderate deficits or near-normal conditions. The extent of exceptional water deficits will begin to diminish somewhat from July through September, though exceptional deficits will persist in Finland, Estonia, and in many pockets of Western and Central Europe. Severe to exceptional deficits are expected along many rivers including the Danube, the Drava, the Rhine, the Rhône, and the Loire. Exceptional surpluses are forecast for eastern Romania and Moldova, and surpluses of generally lesser severity will persist in eastern Poland. Surpluses in Western Russia will persist but diminish in extent and severity except in Murmansk, where exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge. Surpluses will also emerge in northern Sweden.

After September, both deficits and surpluses throughout Europe will diminish significantly in most regions. The forecast for the final months of the forecast period – January 2018 through March 2018 –indicates the widespread emergence of surpluses in Norway, Sweden, southern Finland, and Western Russia.

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

Note on Administrative Boundaries
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.


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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