This summer’s drought in the northern hemisphere is certainly related to climate change

The dry Rhine, communities without drinking water in France, the reappearance of hunger stones in the Czech Republic, exceptional drought and heat in China triggering a national alarm, half of the American territory is affected… This summer, a large part of the affected northern hemisphere has been hit by an historic drought. Man-made climate change has made such episodes at least 20 times more likely, reducing harvests and increasing tensions in agricultural markets, energy production and water supplies, according to a study published on Wednesday (October 5).

This work comes from a network of international scientists, World Weather Attribution, which specializes in attribution studies to determine how the occurrence and intensity of extreme events – heat waves, floods or storms – have been affected by the climate crisis.

Read the decryption: Article reserved for our subscribers How scientists determine if a heatwave is affected by climate change

This time the study focused on the soil drought, also known as agricultural drought, this summer. The 21 researchers analyzed soil moisture at the surface and down to one meter deep recorded in June, July and August across the northern hemisphere except the tropics. They also focused on central and western Europe – two-thirds of the continent had been affected by August 10. Climatologists compared this situation in a 1.2°C warmed climate with models from field observations with past climates.

“soil drying”

The team concludes that climate change in the northern hemisphere has made agricultural droughts at least 20 times more likely for the one-meter-deep zone — particularly important for crops, since plants pump water here — and at least 5 times more likely for surface floors. The impact is also significant in central and western Europe: warming has increased the likelihood of drought by 3-4 times for the one-meter-deep zone and 5-6 times for the surface.

Such a drought can now occur every twenty years in the northern hemisphere and in Europe in the present climate. Conversely, without global warming, it would have happened only once every four hundred years in the Northern Hemisphere and every sixty to eighty years in Europe.

However, the results of the World Weather Attribution are cautious, the real impact of human activity is probably more important

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