Europe’s drought is the worst in almost 500 years, the European Drought Observatory reported Tuesday. The assessment, based on preliminary data to be confirmed at the end of the season, finds 47% of the continent is under warning conditions with 17% in a state of alert. In addition to fueling wildfires and cutting agricultural yields, the drought has also restricted hydroelectric production and, perhaps ironically, reduced coal and oil shipments along rivers like the Rhine. The summer’s heatwave and drought have “created an unprecedented stress on water levels in the entire EU,” said Mariya Gabriel, a Research Commissioner with the European Commission. “We are currently noticing a wildfire season sensibly above the average and an important impact on crops production. Climate change is undoubtedly more noticeable every year.” (BBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera, CNBC, Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Drought, Extreme heat and heatwaves, Wildfires)