Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Are Europe's rivers also at the risk of running dry?

Climate change is increasingly making itself felt in Europe, too: flash floods, heat waves, droughts and forest fires are on the rise on the continent.

After the heat wave at the end of June, already designated historic, the second half of July saw a second one sweep across the European continent, setting new temperature records in the South of France, in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, too. In a number of European countries, the extreme heat has reduced the water yield of large rivers.

The eastern regions of Germany are supplied with water by the Elbe and the Oder rivers, but their water levels were already low before the heat waves set in. Drought had already caused major damage in German agriculture last year, and now experts warn that the residential water supply could also be at risk.

New temperature records were recorded in the South of France, for instance in Bordeaux. Alarming images published by the AFP news agency showed the bed of the Loire, the country’s longest river which crosses a number of regions, almost completely dry at Montjean-sur-Loire, not far from the Atlantic Ocean.

The bed of the Loire is almost completely dry at Montjean-sur-Loire, not far from the Atlantic Ocean Photo: AFP/Loïc Venance

The crisis is not limited to Western Europe: the rivers of Poland are also very low. At Warsaw, the Vistula’s water level is so low that it is close to drying out.

The Vistula’s water level is extremely low at Warsaw
Screenshot: Euronews

The low water level of rivers has an adverse effect on transportation and therefore on trading and the economy, too, as the countries along the Rhine, which connects Switzerland with the Dutch sea ports, had to face the issue caused by the reduction of the river’s water levels.

One of the driest and warmest summers in Germany

This year’s was the third hottest summer in Germany since the beginning of regular meteorological records in 1881, according to preliminary data from the Federal Meteorological Service.

Sad pictures of a lake that disappears in Chile

In 2011, Laguna de Aculeo, one of the country’s favourite bathing resorts, still covered 12 square kilometres, and the lake was 6 metres deep – but since then, it has completely dried out.

One billion tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the air in Africa

The problem of the water shortages caused by global warming is much more complex than we have thought. In some parts of Africa, people not only need to face thirst but also the fact that the regions impacted by drought emit a quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent to the emissions of two hundred million cars each year.

UN report: climate change could cause global famine

According to a new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that focuses on the interaction between climate change, desertification and food security, if present land use habits are maintained, the planet’s capacity to produce food will drop drastically.

European Union aid for drought-stricken Africa

The EU is contributing a further 50 million euro to alleviate drought damage in a number of Eastern and Central African countries. According to estimates, more than 4 million children and about 3 million pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are undernourished in the region.

Seventeen countries suffer critical water shortages

According to a report from the World Resources Institute, 17 countries are facing extremely high water stress, from India through Israel to Botswana. Many of the countries in question – which, collectively, are home to a quarter of the world’s population – are in the Middle East and North Africa.

Zimbabwe hit by power outages due to drought

Drought in the South African country that largely relies on hydroelectric power is causing not only shortages of drinking water but also power outages of up to 16 hours a day in the capital.

The endangered Nile

The water yield of the River Nile is becoming increasingly erratic as a result of climate change, which may have very grave consequences for Egypt.

India among the countries worst affected by global warming

Unprecedented droughts, heat waves claiming more than a hundred lives: the summer of 2019 has made it clear for the whole world that India is in big trouble. How will climate change shape the future of the country?

Water shortages: Spain and Morocco to follow India?

Water shortages represent one of the most severe consequences of global warming, impacting growing numbers of people. In 2018, the Cape Town water crisis made global news. This year so far, the situation is the worst in India: millions are struggling to get water day after day.