More than 100 French municipalities have no running drinking water as the country enters its fourth heatwave this summer while drought tightens its grip on Europe. Sixty percent of land in the EU and UK was under a drought warning or alert in mid-July, the European Drought Observatory said Monday. Repeated heatwaves are exacerbating conditions and surface soil humidity is at the lowest level ever recorded.
“No similar data in the last 230 years compares with the drought and heat we are experiencing this year. Then we have had storms,” Luca Mercalli, the president of the Italian Meteorological Society, told The Guardian. “These episodes are growing in frequency and intensity, exactly as forecast by climate reports over the last 30 years.”
The desiccated conditions helped fuel wildfires across the continent and are hampering agriculture in numerous regions including Switzerland’s dairy industry and risotto rice cultivation in northern Italy’s Po valley. Low water levels also threaten to block shipping on German waterways including the Rhine River — which are being used to transport increased coal shipments as Germany scrambles to slash its consumption and reliance on Russian methane-based gas — all as global food shortages and prices rise due to the Russian war in Ukraine as well as drought elsewhere.
“This is going to be the new normal,” Nuria Hernández-Mora, co-founder of New Water Culture, told The Guardian. “Yet we continue to approve the increased use of a resource we don’t have and which is becoming scarcer.” Drought: The Guardian, CNN, FT $; French heatwave: AP; Photos: The Guardian, The Independent; Climate Signals background: Drought, Extreme heat and heatwaves, Wildfires)