A report by the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC) warns that almost half of the EU territory and the UK face drought risk in July.
"A staggering portion of Europe is currently exposed to warning (44 percent of EU+UK) and alert (9 percent of EU+UK) drought levels, associated with either soil moisture deficit or its combination with vegetation stress," according to a press release from the European Commission.
The Commission said that May and June heat waves worsened the lack of winter and spring rains in the EU and the UK. The whole of Europe has been affected by the impact this situation has had on river flows and stored water volumes have been depleted.
Regions affected include the Italian lowlands; southern, central and western France; central Germany; eastern Hungary; Portugal; and northern Spain.
Crops will be affected in several countries as water becomes more difficult for plants to extract from drier soil. The energy sector is also impacted since hydropower generation and power plant cooling systems require water.
Researchers at the European Commission caution that nearly half of union’s territory is exposed to warning-level of drought, as crops already suffer from water shortage amid an unprecedented heatwave in southwest Europe pic.twitter.com/AJEynBQeOV— TRT World (@trtworld) July 18, 2022
"Energy production from run-of-river plants until the beginning of July was lower than the 2015-2021 average for many European countries. ... The same decrease is true for hydropower reservoir levels."
"Extraordinary water and energy management measures must be adopted" to counter water shortages and drought, the Commission said, and called for addressing climate change, the underlying cause of the alteration in the water cycle.
Scientists say the heat wave sweeping much of Europe is linked to climate change. In some areas of the region, temperatures have reached 40 degrees Celsius, and Portugal, Spain, and France have seen forest fires ravage dry fields.