This summer’s drought in the Northern Hemisphere most certainly linked to climate change

The dry Rhine, municipalities without drinking water in France, hunger stones resurfacing in the Czech Republic, exceptional aridity and heat in China triggering a national alert, half of the American territory affected… This summer, a large part of the Northern Hemisphere has been hit by a historic drought. Human-caused climate change has made such episodes at least 20 times more likely, reducing harvests and increasing tensions in agricultural markets, energy production and water supply, according to a study published on Wednesday (October 5).

This work comes from a network of international scientists, the World Weather Attribution, which specializes in attribution studies, in order to determine to what extent the occurrence and intensity of extreme events – heat waves, floods or storms – have been influenced by the climate crisis.

Read the decryption: Article reserved for our subscribers How scientists determine if a heat wave is influenced by climate change

This time, the study focused on the soil drought, also known as agricultural drought, this summer. The 21 researchers analyzed soil moisture levels at the surface and up to one meter deep recorded in June, July and August throughout the northern hemisphere except the tropics. They also focused on central and western Europe – two-thirds of the continent had been affected by August 10. Using models associated with field observations, climatologists compared this situation, in a climate warmed by 1.2°C, with the climate of the past.

“Soil drying”

The team concludes that climate change, in the Northern Hemisphere, has made agricultural drought at least 20 times more likely for the zone at one meter depth – particularly important for crops since this is where plants pump water. water – and at least 5 times more likely for surface soils. The effects are also important in central and western Europe: warming has multiplied the probability of drought by 3 to 4 for the zone of one meter depth, and between 5 and 6 times for the surface.

Such a drought now has a chance of occurring every twenty years in the Northern Hemisphere and in Europe in the current climate. Conversely, without global warming, it would have taken place only once every four hundred years in the northern hemisphere, and every sixty to eighty years in Europe.

The results of the World Weather Attribution are however cautious, the real influence of human activities being probably more important

You have 61.5% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick