The new climate model shows that further increases in average annual temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns could nearly double the frequency of severe droughts in southern Europe. The description of the model was published by the scientific journal Frontiers in Water.
"Summer droughts have long been one of the most discussed and important topics for Europeans. Our calculations indicate that their frequency and intensity will increase markedly by the end of the century, if the volume of greenhouse gas emissions increases at the current rate," - said Magdalena Mittermeier, research associate University of Munich and one of the authors of the study.
In recent years, the frequency of so-called extreme weather events has increased significantly, including floods, prolonged droughts and heat waves, as well as hurricanes and typhoons in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The increase in these anomalies is presumably associated with global warming, but the mechanisms of its action on the weather have not yet been fully understood.
Mittermeier and her colleagues have studied in detail how global warming will affect the frequency of droughts in Europe, whose numbers have increased markedly in recent years in many other regions of the world, including Africa and North America. To do this, scientists developed a detailed climate model that took into account how changes in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere affected the frequency and nature of precipitation.
Climate and drought
On the one hand, these calculations showed that both now and in the future, the frequency of droughts throughout Europe as a whole will fluctuate strongly up and down. At the same time, scientists found that their average number will grow rapidly, which will especially strongly affect countries on the Mediterranean coast of the subcontinent.
In particular, climatologists have found that the frequency of extreme forms of summer droughts will almost double in Spain and Portugal by the end of the century, while in France and many other southern countries it will increase by 1.6-1.8 times. In addition to this, the frequency of severe droughts in Eastern Europe and in the Alpine countries will noticeably increase - there this figure will increase by 20-25%.
In doing so, scientists have found that the opposite will happen in the winter and fall months of the year. As their calculations show, in most regions of Europe, the average level of winter and autumn precipitation will increase, and the frequency of pronounced droughts will noticeably decrease. Least of all, both those and other trends will affect the UK and Scandinavian countries.
"Many of these changes can be significantly reduced if humanity begins to fully combat global warming. For this reason, the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreements will be one of the most effective ways to combat future droughts in Europe," concluded Mittermeier.