Droughts two years ago worst since 1766

Recent drought levels have not been seen since before American independence

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The level of droughts witnessed between 2018-2020 have not been seen since 1766.

That’s according to research from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), which claims that climate change will make this unprecedented event far more common in the coming years.

Drought spanning across such a large area and lasting for such a prolonged period of time has not been seen in Europe for 250 years and the scientists stress that drought prevention measures need to be in place to prepare for the future.

Dr Oldrich Rakovec, lead author, said: “The 2018 to 2020 drought sets a new benchmark for droughts in Europe. No other drought event over the last 250 years had such a large spatial extent as this one.”

The scientists reconstructed the extent of droughts for the last two and a half centuries and found that the droughts two years ago impacted a third of European land area. Lasting for 33 months, only droughts between 1857 and 1860 lasted longer but these didn’t impact such a large surface area.

It was also revealed that past droughts were colder than recent ones, as global temperatures rise and lead to more water-deficient soil.

Countries impacted by the recent droughts had maize farming yields drop by 40% and what by 17.5%.

“Decision makers should be prepared for significantly more severe drought events in future. Especially for devising new agricultural policies, this should be considered as a wake-up call to assess suitable measures to mitigate the threatening lack of water,” said Dr Luis Samaniego, co-author of the article.