Satellite Data Reveals Long-term Drought Conditions in Europe

Europe is suffering from a severe drought. Satellite data analysed at TU Graz's Institute of Geodesy confirms that groundwater levels have been consistently low since 2018. Although extreme weather events can temporarily create a different picture, the continent is lacking a significant amount of groundwater.

The beginning of this tense situation was documented in a publication by Eva Boergens in Geophysical Research Letters in 2020. In it, she noted that there was a striking water shortage in Central Europe during the summer months of 2018 and 2019. Since then, there has been no significant rise in groundwater levels; the levels have remained constantly low. This is shown by data analysis by Torsten Mayer-Gürr and Andreas Kvas from the Institute of Geodesy at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz). As part of the EU's Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product (G3P) project, they used satellite gravimetry to observe the world's groundwater resources and documented their changes in recent years.

The effects of this prolonged drought were evident in Europe in the summer of 2022. Dry riverbeds, stagnant waters that slowly disappeared and with them numerous impacts on nature and people. Not only did numerous aquatic species lose their habitat and dry soils cause many problems for agriculture, but the energy shortage in Europe also worsened as a result. Nuclear power plants in France lacked the cooling water to generate enough electricity, and hydroelectric power plants could not fulfil their function without sufficient water either.

Read more in GIM International article.

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