Europe: Water deficits will downgrade but remain widespread

16 August 2019

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast through April 2020 indicates water deficits of varying intensity throughout much of Europe from Spain through the Baltic region. Surpluses are expected in the United Kingdom and Ireland, northern European Russia, and some pockets around the Adriatic Sea and in Romania.

Deficits will be widespread and exceptional in Finland, Estonia, and Latvia. Pockets of exceptional deficit are forecast elsewhere including Sweden; Poland near Kraków; Germany near Dresden and Munich; southern Belgium; and central Spain including Madrid. Moderate deficits are expected in France but could be severe in the center of the country.

Moderate to severe surpluses are forecast for the northern United Kingdom and Ireland, northern Romania, western Croatia, southern Serbia, and Umbria in central Italy. Surpluses in northern European Russia will be of similar intensity overall but with some extreme to exceptional anomalies on the Kola Peninsula (Murmansk Oblast).

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

The forecast through October indicates that deficits in Europe will shrink and downgrade overall, though deficits in Finland will remain widespread, ranging from severe to exceptional. Deficits will moderate in central Europe, the Baltics, and Belarus, but pockets of extreme to exceptional deficit are forecast, including southern Germany, southernmost Poland near Kraków, Germany near Dresden and Munich, coastal Norway, and central and northern Sweden. Moderate surpluses are forecast for Ireland and northern United Kingdom (UK), and northern European Russia. Moderate deficits are forecast around Moscow. Surpluses will diminish in Italy, the northern Balkan region, and Romania. Moderate deficits will persist in western Bulgaria. Nearly normal conditions will return to the Iberian Peninsula though some intense surpluses will persist in Murcia in the southeast.

From November 2019 through January 2020, water anomalies will diminish considerably overall leaving nearly normal conditions in much of Europe. However, deficit anomalies of varying intensity will persist in Finland, though diminished, and in some scattered pockets of Sweden. Surpluses will persist in northern European Russia and will increase in the southwest and into Belarus. Moderate surpluses will emerge in pockets of southern Norway and central Switzerland, will diminish in Ireland and the UK, and will nearly disappear in Italy and the Balkans. Some areas of moderate deficit are forecast for southern Germany and central France.

The forecast for the remaining months – February through April 2020 – indicates an increase in surpluses in northern and western European Russia, and in southern Norway, the northern UK and Ireland, and Switzerland, with some small pockets of surpluses emerging in Central Europe. Some deficits will emerge in southern France and into Spain.

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

IMPACTS
[updated 26 Aug 2019]
Heavy rainfall flooded the New Register House dome in Edinburgh, Scotland late last month, damaging 19th century birth, death, and marriage records in the National Records. Half a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours in parts of Wales, causing flooding and disrupting traffic. Heavy downpours continued into August in the United Kingdom, causing flash flooding in parts of Scotland and prompting three flood alerts in Wales in one weekend.

A major landslide following heavy rains suspended rail service between the English cities of Chester and Crewe late last month. Hundreds of homes were evacuated in the English town of Derbyshire when flooding damaged a reservoir dam, threatening its collapse this month. Flooding partially collapsed a bridge and caused a sinkhole in other parts of the U.K.

At least 80 people evacuated mountain areas above Lake Como in Italy when heavy storms caused mudslides and flash floods this month. A state of emergency was declared in Casargo east of Como, when the Varrone River swelled beyond its banks.

A flash flood in the Swiss Alps swept away a car carrying an adult and a 6-year-old girl this month.

Despite storms that battered parts of eastern France in early August, 81 French departments remain under water restrictions due to drought. France’s hot dry summer this year encouraged wildfires to ravage forests in the southeastern regions, burning 4,400 hectares (10,900 acres) as of early August. The median of a highway in Bordeaux spontaneously burst into flames when the local recorded high air temperature hit 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute announced that three quarters of the country is currently affected by soil drought.

Drought in two regions of the Netherlands has reached the same severity as the country’s worst drought on record in 1976, making this year the second consecutive year of dry conditions in the country.

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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