fFirst forest fire and now drought. A continent known for its bitter winters is now suffering through harsh summers, far from the temperate climate of the season when all of Europe basked in the sun in previous years. Extreme heat has sparked forest fires, dried up rivers and destroyed crops, the 27-nation bloc’s Earth Observatory warned in a report.
“Warmer and drier than normal conditions are likely to occur in the western Euro-Mediterranean region next month until November 2022,” particularly in Spain and Portugal, the EU’s Copernicus program said in an August report. The report comes as experts say the continent could face its worst drought in 500 years.
Almost half of the 27-nation EU is under a drought alert, with Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain faring worse.
Outside the European Union, drought risk is increasing in Britain, Serbia, Ukraine and Moldova, according to the report.
Copernicus said a lack of rain and a series of heat waves since May had led to dry conditions and lower river levels.
This has hit the energy sector, depriving hydroelectric and other power plants of their main source of energy and coolant.
Water shortages and heat stress are also reducing European crop yields, with corn, soybeans and sunflowers hit hardest.