Europe: Intense water deficits to persist in Germany, Switzerland, Finland

20 September 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through May 2019 indicates intense deficits in much of Central and Northern Europe. Deficits are expected to be exceptional in many areas including Finland, southern Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, western Poland, and Czechia.

Deficits of generally lesser intensity are forecast for Lithuania, Belarus, eastern Poland, Ukraine, Ireland, Scotland, central France, southern Spain, northern Italy, and eastern Greece and Bulgaria.

Areas of surplus include southwestern Serbia, pockets in Bulgaria, and parts of European Russia. Conditions of both deficit and surplus are also expected in European Russia as transitions occur.

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

As is apparent in the map series, intense deficits in Europe will give way to milder conditions after November along with some pockets of moderate surplus. In the next few months through November widespread, exceptional deficits in the region will downgrade overall, but severe to exceptional deficits are forecast for Germany, particularly in the south and along the Rhine in the west. Deficits of equal intensity are also forecast for Switzerland, Finland, southeastern Norway, and southern Ireland. Moderate to severe deficits are expected in the Baltics, many parts of Eastern Europe, and pockets of Scotland and England. Moderate deficits are forecast throughout much of France. Areas of surplus include Hungary and parts of Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Surpluses are expected to be intense in southern Hungary.

The December through February forecast indicates a transition away from widespread, intense deficit to mild deficits and the emergence of moderate surpluses in many regions. Deficits will, however, persist in Sweden and Finland and will emerge around the Mediterranean. Deficits conditions are expected to be extreme in Lapland and moderate to severe in Sardinia and Greece. Scattered pockets of moderate surplus are forecast in many regions including: Norway, the Baltics, northern Ukraine, Czechia, northern Switzerland, northern Austria, along the Elbe River in Germany, along the Danube, Bosnia and Herzegovina and its neighbors, western and southeastern France, and England. Surpluses may be extreme in northern Switzerland.

The forecast for the remaining months – March through May – indicates a slight retreat of surpluses in Central and Eastern Europe and an increase in the extent and intensity of deficits around the Mediterranean.

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

IMPACTS
A European dairy cooperative owned by over 11,000 farmers in the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands is planning to pay its entire 2018 profit to farmers, many of whom across the continent are struggling with drought-afflicted losses. Profits are expected to be around £278 million (USD$368 million). Drought caused fodder supplies across Europe to dry up early this year, requiring dairy farmers to purchase feed at high prices, cull herds, or stop milking months early. Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority expects this year’s dairy farm earnings to be merely half of last year’s. Germany will be a net importer of grains this year for the first time in nearly three decades, having produced its smallest grain crop in 24 years. Sweden’s grain harvest is expected to be down around 30 percent. Sweden’s indigenous Sami people, the only legal reindeer herders, have asked for emergency funding as they struggle to cope with dwindling quality of grazing land.

The drought has depleted river levels enough to preclude full-length river cruises along the Danube River, Europe’s most popular river cruise. Cruise companies announced warnings of “adjustments,” which historically imply partial bussing and hotel stays in place of cabining aboard the cruise vessel.

Remains of the lost ancient village of Berich in Germany emerged at the bottom of a reservoir that had been drained to enhance drought-depleted water levels in the Weser River, a shipping route.

Fueled by pine forests dried to tinder by the drought, one of Germany’s largest forest fires in decades blazed late last month, prompting over 500 people to evacuate their homes. Located about 30 miles south of Berlin, the fire tore through 400 hectares (100 acres) and is believed to have been started deliberately.

At least ten people were killed and 23 others were rescued after they were trapped by a flash flood while hiking a popular gorge in southern Italy late last month.

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.

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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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