Germany heading toward a third summer of drought

Lack of rain and high temperatures has Germany approaching its third summer of drought in a row due to high temperatures and sparse precipitation. 

The map, provided by the NASA Earth Observatory on data generated by the National Drought Mitigation Center, illustrates root zone soil moisture for April 2020.

The parched conditions in spring 2020 follow the warmest December to February on record for Europe. Germany also had a particularly dry spring, with little to no rain in many areas since mid-March. The German Meteorological Service reported that April 2020 was the sunniest and third driest April on record. Meteorologists were forcasting rain for early May but were unsure how much it might offset the precipitation deficit.

In 2016, Europe experienced one of its hottest years on record in the wake of a strong El Niño. In 2018, drought caused harvest damage of “national proportions,” leading the government to provide financial aid to farmers.

And 2019 also brought significant crop failures and income loss due to drought conditions. 

These recent years fit a longer trend of warmer temperatures and reduced groundwater storage. According to the German government’s Climate Monitoring Report, available water in agricultural soils has decreased over the past 50 years. Also, hot days (when temperatures rise above 86°F.) are also becoming more common. For comparison, in 1951, Germany experienced about three hot days in an average year. Now that nation is experiencing 10 days in a row.

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