Much of Europe and China are seeing extreme temperatures this summer, droughts in Africa are putting millions at risk of starvation, and the western United States is suffering from a chronic lack of adequate rainfall.
Even though scientists say warmer and drier seasons are becoming normal, the last few months have been the driest in recorded history, according to a BBC report.
How dry is the earth?
One of the methods scientists use to measure dryness is to measure soil moisture using satellite images.
By doing so, the BBC tried to paint a picture of recent extreme weather patterns by comparing the dryness of the past three months with the average dryness since the turn of the century.
It found that much of Europe saw drier conditions this summer than the 2001-2016 average.
Apart from this, the western part of China is also witnessing severe dry conditions, with many areas suffering from severe drought. Parts of Africa adjacent to the Sahara desert and the United States are also experiencing severe drought conditions.
Worst drought in ‘500 years’ in Europe
According to the European Union’s environmental program Copernicus, Europe’s summer drought is likely to be the worst in the continent’s 500-year history.
Almost half of Europe saw a ‘soil moisture deficit’ at the ‘peak’ of this dry season in late August.
Europe will see more and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change, scientists say. And this year’s dry conditions will affect agriculture, transport and energy production.
The Rhine, one of Europe’s main rivers and a major shipping route, has dropped so low this summer that shipping has been severely disrupted.
June to August were the three hottest months on record and a European Union report in August predicted at least three more months of ‘hotter and drier’ days.
Europe has seen dry seasons before, but summers have continued to warm in recent years, with new temperature records being set.
“It has been 5 consecutive years of drought, and this year across Europe is the worst in hundreds of years. Not only is there less rain, the environment is getting warmer day by day, due to which overall soil moisture is decreasing,” said Dr. Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Fred Hutterman.