Unprecedented European Droughts

A recent series of summer droughts in Europe, which brought devastating ecological, agricultural, and economic impacts, were more severe than any over the past 2,100 years, new research has found.

“Our results show that what we have experienced over the past five summers is extraordinary for central Europe, in terms of how dry it has been consecutively,” dendrochronology specialist and lead author Professor Ulf Büntgen of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography said in a statement.

Büntgen and the team of international researchers linked the recent droughts to the climate crisis, including its impacts on the jet stream. Analysing over 27,000 measurements of carbon and oxygen isotopic ratios from European oak trees — 21 living and 126 dead — the scientists got a picture of past climates, including summer droughts, spanning the years 75 BC to 2018. The “insights before medieval times, are particularly vital, because they enable us to get a more complete picture of past drought variations, which were essential for the functioning and productivity of ecosystems and societies.” Said Büntgen.

European Drought the worst in two millenia - Cambridge research

While the reconstruction did show an overall drying trend the samples showed that the droughts from 2015-2018 were “unprecedented” over the massive time span. “Climate change does not mean that it will get drier everywhere: some places may get wetter or colder, but extreme conditions will become more frequent, which could be devastating for agriculture, ecosystems, and societies as a whole,” said Büntgen.

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Climate change is here: Europe’s recent droughts unprecedented in millennia, Red, Green and Blue, 2021-03-21

by Lukas Frisch Tonkinson.

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