A new scientific study reinforces that drought across the northern hemisphere, which is becoming recurrent, is at least 20 times more likely as a result of climate change. The climate crisis is increasing the odds of worsening drought in many parts of the world, especially in areas where droughts were not very frequent.
The summer 2022 drought crisis hit crop production and power supplies, exacerbating the food and energy crises already sparked by the war in Ukraine. Unless the burning of fossil fuels is phased out, researchers warn that droughts will become harsher. The scientists said a summer as hot as that of 2022 would have been “virtually impossible” without global heating and in Europe alone there were 24,000 heat-related fatalities.
1. World Weather Attribution
The study was carried out by an international team of researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, which analysed soil moisture levels in June, July and August 2022 in the top meter of soil, where plants take up water. The team used weather and soil data and computer models to compare the likelihood of the summer drought in today’s heated world and in a world without global heating.
The 2022 summer has shown how human-induced climate change is increasing the risks of droughts in densely populated and cultivated regions.Professor Sonia Seneviratne, ETH Zurich
As part of the research team, Seneviratne added: “We need to phaseout the burning of fossil fuels if we want to [prevent] more frequent and more intense droughts.”
Also part of the team, Dr Friederike Otto, at Imperial College London, said: “In Europe, drought conditions led to reduced harvests. This was particularly worrying as it followed a climate change-fuelled heatwave in [India and Pakistan] that also destroyed crops, and happened at a time when global food prices were already extremely high due to the war in Ukraine.”
2. Climate adaptation
While the scientific study is complex and carries uncertainties, researchers said the estimates are conservative, with the real influence of human activities likely even higher. They believe that the world is already seeing the impacts compounding and cascading across regions and sectors, including the cut of hydropower production as well as nuclear and coal plants, due to the lack of cooling water.
Climate change is really hitting us hard, not just in poor countries like Pakistan, but also in some of the richest parts of the world, like west central Europe, that had been considered less vulnerable. It’s playing out in front of our eyes even faster than we might have expected.Professor Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre
Before such a gloomy reality, experts and governments are working on climate adaptation plans, trying to find solutions to cope with the several natural disasters that are expected to come. “This new study clearly points to the fingerprint of climate change and should be another wake-up call to reduce emissions, but also to invest more in resilience,” van Aalst added.
3. EU Mission Adaptation
Trying to adapt to the climate crisis, the EU has launched a mission intended to enhance region’s capabilities to address the undesired consequences of climate change. The “Mission Adaptation” aims to support at least 150 regions and communities in accelerating their transformation towards climate resilience by 2030 and it is being financed with €370 million.
The changes we need to tackle the climate crisis on the ground are local.— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) June 7, 2022
They happen city by city, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, street by street.
118 regions and communities that joined the EU Mission Adaptation will show that a green future is possible.#EUGreenDeal
“Every town, city, and region in Europe is affected by the climate crisis. And every one of them is rolling out solutions or looking for new ideas. We want to bring these communities together so that they can test and deploy the best possible solutions to become more resilient to climate change,” said EU Commissioner for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans.
The total number of signatories to the EU mission now stands at 215 from 24 EU countries, with 13 more parties coming from countries associated or potentially associated with Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme.