Europe’s hot summer weather could worsen the effects of COVID-19

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Unseasonably warm temperatures across most of Europe is currently enjoying could aggravate the situation for the agricultural sector as crops will suffer greatly. And experts say there is a very real prospect that beyond the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Europe could be facing weather-induced crop failures in the very near future.

Right now, there is little talk of that threat as farmers are more concerned with an acute lack of seasonal harvesters from abroad. The labour shortage is the direct result of travel bans put in place in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. Quarantine-related stories like this one have dominated headlines for weeks, leaving no space for the climate change stories they replaced — stories about massive forest fires raging across Australia and Brazil, for instance.

“January was too warm. There is no evidence that global warming has paused or slowed,” says Andreas Becker of the German Weather Service (DWD) in Frankfurt am Main. Moreover, he says, January and March were far too dry and February too wet. Water levels in Germany’s largest river, the Rhine, were more than 6 meters (20 feet) above average in early March, though they are now falling once again. Currently, the Rhine is close to its average depth of 3.5 meters, but water levels are continuing to drop.

Meteorologist Becker says the good thing about having such a wet February is that it helped offset some of the groundwater loss that occurred over the past two years as temperatures soared above 40℃ (104℉). He says plants, which draw water from the top 20-50 centimeters (8-20 inches) of soil, have been doing better than trees, which draw theirs from depths closer to two meters. Becker says there is very little water remaining at those levels.

Read more via DW

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