Climate change caused temperatures to rise in the summer of this year, causing soil conditions in the Northern Hemisphere to be at least 20 times greater, according to a new study.
Analysis found that greenhouse gas emissions played a key role in warming, making the summer of 2022 one of the warmest on record in Europe.
The scientists calculated that such a drought can be expected about once every 20 years in the current climate, which has warmed 1.2°C due to emissions.
We need to phase out the burning of fossil fuels if we want to stabilize climate conditions and prevent a further deterioration of these droughts
The experts said that if humans hadn’t warmed the planet, the drought in the Northern Hemisphere was only to be expected about once every 400 years or less.
In Europe, this drought is said to have occurred about once every 60-80 years, she added.
Sonia Seneviratne, professor at the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science at ETH Zurich, Switzerlandsaid: “We need to phase out the burning of fossil fuels if we are to stabilize climate conditions and prevent a further deterioration of these drought events, which will become more frequent and intense with an additional increase in global warming.”
More than 24,000 heat-related deaths were recorded on the continent this year, while European fires were the worst on record.
The resulting drought led to widespread water shortages and crop failures affecting the electricity supply.
Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College Londonsaid: “In Europe, droughts led to reduced harvests.
“This was especially concerning as it followed a climate change-fueled heat wave in South Asia that also destroyed crops and happened at a time when global food prices were already extremely high as a result of the war in Ukraine.”
An international team of climate scientists from the World Weather Attribution group analyzed soil moisture levels in June, July and August 2022, across much of the Northern Hemisphere.
They focused on the moisture content for the top 7 cm of the soil, to measure surface dryness, and for the top 100 cm.
The top 100cm, also known as the root zone, is important for crops, as this is where plants draw water.
Soil moisture drought in this part of the soil is often referred to as agricultural and ecological drought.
The scientists also analyzed weather data and computer simulations to compare the climate as it is today with the climate of the 19th century.
Based on the findings, the experts estimated that human-caused climate change made surface droughts at least five times more likely and agricultural and ecological droughts at least 20 times more likely.
In Europe, the researchers said global warming made surface droughts about five to six times more likely and agricultural and ecological droughts about three to four times more likely.