EU drought rated as ‘worst in 500 years’

(ORDO NEWS) — Rainfall deficit bad for crop yields, European Commission warns

Europe is facing what appears to be its worst drought in five centuries, the European Commission warned on Tuesday, citing a new analysis published by the EU Joint Research Center (JRC).

The August report highlights the continued impact of extreme weather on agriculture. Almost half of the EU, or 47%, remains on alert due to lack of soil moisture, and 17% of the EU is on alert due to the negative impact of weather on crops. Together they make up 64% of the EU territory, the statement said.

Scientists predict a decline in summer crop yields due to extreme conditions, with corn, sunflower and soybean farms hit hardest, with declines of 16%, 15% and 12% respectively. However, there is also a positive point: the yield of winter crops has increased slightly, the JRC said.

“According to JRC experts, the current drought is still the worst in 500 years. The final data at the end of the season will confirm this preliminary assessment,” the commission said.

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Maria Gabriel said the combination of severe drought and heat has created “unprecedented stress” on water levels across the EU.

“We are currently seeing a wildfire season that is reasonably above average and a significant impact on crop production,” she said.

The impact is not limited to the agricultural sector, as shallow European rivers cannot generate as much hydropower, provide as much cooling for industries or serve as transport lines as they would under normal conditions, the statement added.


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