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Europe's drought summer

Sonya Angelica DiehnSeptember 1, 2015

It's official: Europe experienced a severe drought this summer. DW looks at the key points of a new analysis reflecting impacts of high temperatures and low rainfall on the environment and people.

Dried up creek bed in Germany (Photo: Rothermel)
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Rothermel

It's official: Europe suffered a severe drought in June and July of 2015. This is according to the European Drought Observatory's analysis of data through the end of July.

Not only did virtually the entire European continent see a shortage of rainfall this summer, but it also experienced "thermal anomalies" in July - that is, heat waves that were hotter and longer than average.

The drought had a number of consequences for people and the environment. High heat caused soils to dry out, also drying out plants. This facilitated the spread of wildfires, like this one in Greece.

Wildfire in Greece (Photo: REUTERS/Vassilis Konstantopoulos/Intimenews)
Image: Reuters/W. Konstantopoulos

The impact of the lack of rain and high temperatures could be felt across many sectors. Agricultural production was reduced, and forests dried out and became more susceptible to insect attacks. Hydropower production decreased, rivers fell to record low levels, and inland water transport was completely shut down in some places.

Stones are seen on the drying Elbe river-bed northwest of Prague (Photo: Libor Zavoral)
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Libor Zavoral

Tourism, however, was boosted - along with "open-air" activities, the observatory noted. The conditions allowed certain grape varieties to flourish, and of course benefited solar energy. The joint research project presented the analysis in its Drought News August 2015 publication.

Bathers on a beach in the Netherlands
Image: picture-alliance/Ton Koene

Although low rainfall and high temperatures were present across many European regions, France, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Benelux block, northern Italy and northern Spain experienced exceptionally hot and dry conditions. In these areas in June and July, it was warmer than 30 degrees Celsius for 30 days - while Spain (pictured below) saw 40 days over that temperature.

Dry landscape in Spain
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Vahlsing