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Soil drought study: Climate change is causing hotter summers — and more droughts


High temperatures exacerbated by climate change made drought periods more likely in 2022. According to scientists, water shortages, fires and crop losses are the consequences – they are pessimistic about the future.

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Hessian Edersee in the summer of 2022: large parts of Europe had to struggle with extreme weather events this year

Photo: Ralf Lobeca / IMAGO

Forest fires, droughts, water shortages - large parts of Europe had to struggle with extreme weather events this year.

An international team of scientists has now come to the conclusion that high temperatures, exacerbated by climate change, made drought periods in the northern hemisphere more likely in 2022.

According to them, water shortages, fires, high food prices and crop losses were among the most serious effects of the summer, which was one of the hottest in Europe on record.

The study was published by World Weather Attribution, an initiative of climate scientists.

With the research, the team aimed to assess the extent to which human-caused climate change has altered the "probability and intensity of low soil moisture at both the surface and root zones of most crops."

According to the researchers, heat waves and very little rainfall led to very dry soils – especially in Central European countries.

This in turn would have led to poor harvests in the affected regions and increased the risk of fire.

In “combination with the already very high food prices”, this is likely to endanger “food security worldwide”, the authors write.

Climate change increases the likelihood of droughts

To determine the role of climate change in these changes, the scientists combined observation-based data sets with climate models.

The result: Human-caused climate change increases the likelihood of the observed drought.

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According to the authors, when all the evidence is combined, the probability of a drought in the root zone is three to four times greater as a result of climate change, and that of a drought on the surface five to six times greater.

In areas of the northern hemisphere, climate change has increased the likelihood of observed soil drought by at least twenty-fold in the root zone and at least five-fold on the surface.

But, "as is usual with quantities that are difficult to observe, the exact numbers are uncertain," write the scientists.

The analyzed models also show that soil dryness will continue to increase with additional global warming, which is consistent with the long-term trends forecast in climate models.

"In many of these countries and regions, we are already seeing the scientific evidence showing the fingerprints of climate change," Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center and one of the 21 researchers who published the new study, told the New York Times « .

"The implications are very clear to people now, and they're hitting them hard."

In the study, the scientists dealt in particular with dry soils, which had serious economic and ecological effects on the entire northern hemisphere, with the exception of the tropical regions.

They were particularly serious in western and central Europe.

For the study, they analyzed the drought in the period from June to August 2022. A soil moisture level as low on the surface and in the root zone as in summer 2022 can be observed about once in 20 years in today's climate.

"Although the magnitude of the historical trends varies between the different observation-based soil moisture products, all agree that the drought observed in both regions in 2022 would have been less likely in the early 20th century,"


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-10-06

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