Drought, floods chilling reminder of climate change

Europe is facing its worst drought in at least 500 years, China’s record drought is weighing heavily on farmers as crops wilt in fields, and the Pakistani government last Friday declared an emergency to deal with the monsoon floods that affected more than 30 million people. Above, there are only three climate change-related issues that have been recurring across continents in recent times.
In Europe, two-thirds of the continent is on high alert or on warning, reducing inland navigation, electricity generation and crop yields, a European Union agency said last week. . The August report from the European Drought Observatory (EDO), overseen by the European Commission, says 47% of Europe is on high alert, with a clear soil moisture deficit, and 17 % in a state of alert, in which the vegetation is affected.
“The severe drought that has affected many parts of Europe since the beginning of the year was further extended and worsened in early August,” the report said, adding that the Western Europe-Mediterranean region would likely experience warmer and drier than normal conditions until November. Much of Europe has faced weeks of baking temperatures this summer, worsening drought, sparking wildfires, triggering health warnings and prompting calls for more action to tackle the climate change.
Summer crops have suffered in Europe, with grain maize yields in 2022 expected to be 16% lower than the previous five-year average and soybean and sunflower yields expected to drop 15% and 12% respectively. . Hydropower generation was affected, with further impact on other power generators due to a shortage of water to power cooling systems. Low water levels have hampered inland navigation, such as along the Rhine, with reduced shipping loads affecting the transportation of coal and oil. The EDO said rains in mid-August may have improved conditions, but in some cases they were accompanied by thunderstorms that caused further damage. The observatory’s drought indicator is derived from measurements of precipitation, soil moisture, and the fraction of solar radiation absorbed by plants for photosynthesis.
In China, the prolonged heat wave, which saw temperatures exceed 40°C, exposed the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to climate change. The country is currently experiencing the most severe drought and heatwave since national records began in 1961. The South China Morning Post reported that as of Sunday, the drought affected at least 2.46 million people and about 2, 2 million hectares of farmland in nine provinces along the Yangtze River Basin, including Sichuan and neighboring metropolis Chongqing, according to the Ministry of Water Resources. On Thursday, the national observatory issued its amber alert – the second highest level in a four-level color-coded warning system – for drought in several provinces.
In Pakistan, officials say this year’s floods are comparable to those of 2010 – the worst on record – when more than 2,000 people died and almost a fifth of the country was under water. A statement released Friday by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s office said 33 million people had been “severely affected” by the floods, while the country’s disaster management agency said nearly 220,000 homes had been damaged. destroyed and half a million others badly damaged. Two million acres of crops have been wiped out in Sindh alone, the provincial disaster agency said, where many farmers live hand to mouth, season after season. Earlier this year, much of the country was in the grip of drought and a heat wave, with temperatures reaching 51 degrees Celsius in Jacobabad, Sindh province. In an example of the extreme and divisive situations precipitated by climate change, the city is now grappling with floods that have inundated homes and washed away roads and bridges. Such scenarios are also reproduced in some other countries, which confirms the unpredictability of the evolution of weather conditions.