Ireland has been listed as one of the countries “most significantly” impacted by drought conditions over the summer months, according to a newly-published European Drought Observatory (EDO) report.
Comparing results for August to a previous assessment at the end of June, the report – carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) – found that the overall situation “worsened” over Scandinavia, and substantially over Ireland and the UK.
However, the newly published EDO findings reveals that soil moisture deficits have “improved slightly” in some parts of Ireland in recent weeks.
The research findings state that persistent conditions of high pressure resulted in a prolonged period of sunny and dry weather over most of central and northern Europe.
As a result, monthly precipitation totals for selected stations across Europe, demonstrated that rainfall has been consistently lower than normal for several months.
However, it also states that over the month of August the precipitation deficit has “generally increased” over southern Sweden, central Germany and Ireland.
The report states that: “At the end of July, high temperature anomalies were recorded for several consecutive days along a belt crossing Europe from the south west to the north east. [The conditions lasted] up to about a week for most locations.
Compared to mid-July, soil moisture recovered to a varying degree in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia in early August and projections suggest a further recovery to mid-August.
On the other hand, the findings suggest that the soil moisture deficit has spread further in central Europe towards the south and west (France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Austria).
“No recovery is foreseen for Germany and the Benelux region [Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg] up until mid-August,” the report states.
Concerning agriculture, the report highlights that in the drought-affected zones, some national governments are discussing aid to farmers amid damage claims.
In addition, the livestock sector in many member states is also affected due to a lack of fodder.
Last month, a bulletin from the JRC on winter crop yield forecasts for Europe reported that water stress, associated with exceptionally dry and warmer-than-usual conditions, affected the flowering and/or grain filling of winter crops and spring cereals in large regions of northern central and northern Europe.
Winter and spring cereal yield forecasts were revised downwards in practically all northern and central European countries – including major producers Germany and Poland.
The yield forecasts for grain maize, sunflower and soybean were revised upwards – mainly on account of favourable conditions with abundant rain in southern central and south-eastern Europe – including large producers such as Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
The forecast for sugar beet remained practically unchanged at EU level, as an upward revision for France was counterbalanced by a downward revision for Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, according to the JRC bulletin.