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

The dry Rhine, the municipalities without drinking water in France, the stones of hunger resurface in the Czech Republic, the exceptional dryness and heat in China have triggered the national alert, half of the American territory affected … This summer, great part of the northern hemisphere hit by a historic drought. Human-caused climate change has made such episodes at least 20 times more likely, reducing yields and increasing tensions in agricultural markets, energy production and water supply, according to a study published Wednesday (Oct.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 affected by the climate crisis.

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

This time around, the study focused on 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 across the northern hemisphere, except the tropics. They also focused on central and western Europe: two thirds of the continent had been hit by 10 August. Using models associated with field observations, climatologists compared this situation, in a climate heated to 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 one meter deep area – particularly important for crops as this is where plants pump water – and at least 5 times. more likely for superficial soils. The effects are also important in central and western Europe: warming has multiplied the probability of drought by 3 to 4 for the area of ​​one meter deep, and by 5 to 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 only have occurred once every four hundred years in the Northern Hemisphere and every sixty or eighty years in Europe.

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

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