How winter drought is affecting Europe

Due to the low water levels, vegetation has overtaken the shores of the Lac des Graoussettes in southwest France. Only 25% of the 32-hectare reservoir, which is used by nearby farmers and fishers, is filled.

The nation has gone 32 days without any significant rain, up to and including February 21, which is the longest such stretch in recorded history, according to the official forecaster Météo-France on Wednesday (February 22).

For this area, where the cultivation of apples, plums, walnuts, hazelnuts, tomatoes, strawberries, cereals, and other seeds is highly reliant on water from nearby reservoirs, a new drought would be disastrous.

Map of current droughts in Europe - January 2023 EU Copernicus Programme/ European Drought Observatory

"If we're only going to reach 50% capacity according to the most pessimistic forecasts, there will inevitably be a problem with irrigation this summer," says Stéphane Faresin, a cereal and prune producer from Agen and chairman of the local water management organisation Epidropt.

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