The Danger Of Drought In Europe
Between 2018 and 2020, Europe battled one of the worst droughts since 2003, with over 600,000 square kilometers of land area registering a soil moisture deficit according to calculations by the European Environment Agency (EEA). While a lack of moisture in soil doesn’t necessarily cause droughts, a sufficient moisture level “is essential for the development of plants, it regulates soil structure, soil temperature, salinity and the presence of toxic substances and it contributes to prevent soil erosion” according to EEA experts.
With the current heatwave bound to further exacerbate water shortages in Southern and Southeast Europe, Statista’s Florian Zandt analyzes the types of ecosystems most affected by soil moisture deficits in the European Union.
Between 2000 and 2019, forests and woodlands have had the driest soil, with roughly 421,000 and 382,000 square kilometers affected in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Grassland and cropland come in second and third, while heathlands and wetlands are traditionally less affected by a lack of soil moisture.
Interestingly, soil moisture deficits in urban areas have been on the rise as well. 2018 saw 35,000 square kilometers of urban areas around the EU suffering from low moisture in their soil, a number which increased to 44,000 square kilometers in 2019, making it the fourth-most affected type of ecosystem in that year.
Soil moisture deficit is measured in standard deviations from long-term normal conditions. 2019 saw an overall standard deviation of -0.63 points, a value even worse than that of the 2003 drought. The countries with the highest average percentage of their territories affected by low soil moisture are Czechia, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.
Thu, 07/21/2022 – 04:15