Europe: Widespread water deficits ahead

22 April 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through December 2019 indicates deficits of varying intensity throughout much of Europe. Exceptional deficits are forecast for southern Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus north of Minsk, and pockets of southern Sweden.

Severe to extreme deficits are forecast for many regions including Portugal, southwestern Spain, France, northern Italy, eastern Croatia, Denmark, and Belgium.

Areas with a forecast of surplus include central Austria, Umbria in central Italy, northwestern Sweden, and Murmansk, Russia.

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

The forecast through June indicates widespread deficits of varying intensity throughout much of Europe as European Russia transitions from surplus to deficits and surpluses in parts of Central and Eastern Europe diminish or transition. Deficits of exceptional intensity are expected to increase in Finland, Estonia, and Latvia; emerge in Belarus north of Minsk; persist in southern Sweden; downgrade to severe in Hungary; and shrink slightly in eastern Croatia. Other notable changes: deficits will moderate in Spain but intensify in central France and will include extreme to exceptional deficits on the Loire and Dordogne Rivers. Surpluses are forecast for pockets of Switzerland and Austria, southern Umbria in central Italy, northwestern Sweden, and Murmansk, Russia.

From July through September, deficits will cover most of Europe but will moderate overall in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, with more intense deficits in Scandinavia and the Baltics. Severe deficits are forecast for France, Switzerland, and other pockets of Central Europe. In the north, exceptional deficits will persist in Finland, shrinking somewhat. Deficits will be extreme to exceptional in Estonia, Norway, and southern Sweden; severe in Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus; and moderate in much of European Russia. Surpluses will shrink but persist in Murmansk.

The forecast for the remaining months – October through December – indicates mild to moderate deficits in much of Europe, with some nearly normal conditions; some pockets of more intense deficit in Finland though much diminished from prior months; and surpluses in Norway, Sweden, and Murmansk.

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

IMPACTS
Portugal is bracing for wildfire season by assembling a record number of firefighters and water-dropping aircraft, following a dry winter and unseasonably high temperatures in recent weeks.

Creuse Department in central France is facing exceptional drought, with officials citing low river flows normally seen in July and August and soil moisture deficits unequaled in 60 years.

Germany’s meteorological office has developed a tool to forecast soil moisture six weeks in advance to aid farmers in preparing for potential droughts. The move follows the devastating 2018 season, in which soils dried up and forced 8,000 farmers to apply for emergency aid.

Hungary’s National Association of Grain Growers is predicting a 20 to 30 percent decline in this year’s grain crop due to drought conditions affecting wheat, rapeseed, oat, and rye.

Extreme weather including floods, droughts, and heatwaves caused economic losses of 453 billion euros (USD $508.7 billion) and killing over 115,000 people in Europe between 1980 and 2017, according to a recent report published by the European Environment Agency.

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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