Posted on: 2023-02-18 19:51:28 by davidof

Europe risks drought due to lack of snow

According to Meteo France we have now gone 27 days without rain. A record for winter. In ski resorts snowfall and snow depths are well below long term averages. In the mountain regions snow forms an important stock of water for the late spring and early summer. “Today’s lack of snow is next summer and autumn’s drought” warns Swiss hydrologist Manuela Brunner. The second time in a row after the low snow winter of 2021/22. Hydro power will also have to adjust to the lack of water in reservoirs at a time when Europe is cut off from Russian gas. Brunner has studied the relationship between snowpack decline and drought events. “in the period 1994 to 2017 the number of droughts triggered by lack of snow has increased by 15% compared to 1970 to 1993”. Both lack of snowfall and the altitude where snow falls has hadan effect.

In France the water tables are at a “worrying level” warn the authorities. At Valgaudemar in the Southern Alps only 12cm of snow has fallen this year, compared with 65cm in 2020. Last autumn the Serre Poncon reservoir was 17m lower than its normal level. According to Meteo France 2022 was the hottest year on record in France with an average temperature of 14.5°C beating the previous record of 14.07°C set in 2020 by almost half a degree. The outlook for the summer is not good following last year’s drought and long period of heatwaves. One issue is the ground is baked dry and any rainfall tends to run off into rivers rather than penetrating down to the water table. “The ground water situation is currently much less favourable than at the end of the 2021/22 winter”. Two thirds of French water usage comes from the acquefier. Controls are still in place in a dozen departments and authorities warn that widespread and strict controls may be necessary this summer.

Snow depths at the Col de Porte/Northern Alps - 1350 meters.