Drought in Britain: An island without water

Heat wave
Drought in Great Britain: An island is parched

A balloon flies over the fields during the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2022, brown and dry from a long drought.

© Ben Birchall/PA Wire/DPA

Brown fields and dusty riverbeds: Drought has also reached Great Britain. Water is distributed in some areas. Other areas and activities may follow. The effects are already dramatic.

Great Britain is known for its naturally wet and cold climate, its many rainy days and inhospitable fog. The scene now is quite amazing. Instead of lush green meadows and fields, many parts of the island shine in very different shades of brown and yellow. one look Drought map from the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology Events: The counties of Sussex, Essex, Kent and Thames in the South East have been particularly affected by severe and severe droughts. This also applies to parts of Cornwall. In the north the effects are less dramatic, but only a few areas can be described as wet.

“We are experiencing a record second heat wave since July in some parts of the country. Action is already being taken by the government and other partners, including the Environment Agency, to manage the impact,” Water Secretary Steve Double said after the meeting. Environmental authorities and water companies. Great Britain is currently experiencing its driest July since 1935, according to official figures. In addition, last year’s first November was the driest since 1976. The last drought occurred in 2018.

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Over the past few weeks and months, the situation has continued to deteriorate UK Environment Agency Weekly Rainfall and Runoff Report indicates. Already from early to mid-June, the whole island has not seen any rain. Weather maps were already flashing red a month ago, and now they’re doing it again. That is why representatives of the National Drought Committee, Environment Agency and water agencies met with Minister Dube on Friday morning to discuss the current situation. As a result: Drought conditions have been declared for parts of the UK. 14 regions and counties in southern and central Britain are affected. Other regions will follow in August. Citing leaked documents, the “Guardian” reported.

Rivers and reservoirs dry up due to drought

For those living in the affected areas, water is now rationed. Watering gardens, cleaning cars, using garden hoses or throwing on lawn sprinklers is now prohibited. Even private swimming pools and paddling pools are no longer filled. According to a BBC report, around 1.4 million households will be affected by the ban. Among others, commercial cultivation of plants, irrigation of sports facilities and car wash operation are excluded.

The British Meteorological Service (MET) issued an extreme heat warning for parts of south-east Great Britain and Wales on Tuesday. No return before Sunday. Maximum temperatures will be above 30 degrees on Friday and Saturday. With the weather warning issued, the authority warned people, particularly in Essex and Sussex, to conserve water. One reason is the Hanningfield Reservoir. A year ago the blue shimmering landscape glistened in the sun, today there is a white sand beach, green algae mats and blue puddles. The pumped storage reservoir, which actually holds up to 25,500 million litres, has shrunk to a minimum.

Drought in Britain

Water levels at Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex for comparison: left from 05/28/2020 and right from 08/10/2022

© Nicholas.T.Ansell / Dominic Lipins / PA Wire / DPA

Tourists who like to hike in the south-west Cotswolds at the headwaters of the Thames report similar things. “We started our holiday with a walk on the Thames. We started from the source this morning but missed the Thames”, Michael Saunders reports for “The Standard.”. The river bed in the village of Ashton-Keynes has completely dried up. What remains is a brown, crumbling riverbed with insects hovering over it.

Supply will be affected by drought

This has consequences for the food supply. As the fields cannot be irrigated, half of the potato harvest is lost to drought. Even the most drought-tolerant maize will suffer this year. Crops such as carrots, onions, sugar beets, apples and hops are expected to suffer 10 to 50 percent losses as reservoirs across the country are rapidly depleting. Wildfires also threaten large tracts of agricultural land. Also milk production is also deficient due to lack of adequate fodder for cows.

If the situation worsens, water providers may ask the British government for a drought emergency order. This allows rationing of water supply to households and businesses at specific times of the day. Customers have to get their water needs from taps or mobile water tanks. Due to increased fire danger, the State Nature Conservancy may prohibit access to certain areas.

It is unlikely that the situation will calm down again in autumn. Although dry summers have been offset by wet autumns in recent years, dry conditions are expected to last until October, according to the British Environment Agency. The reasons for this are warmer than average ocean currents and climate change. Southeast, this means one thing above all else: below-average water levels in river basins. Bad news for farmers. According to climatologists and naturalists, they will not be able to sow seeds this autumn as in previous years – again with severe consequences for supply in the coming year.

No improvement in vision

All this does not surprise climate scientists. Mike Ravington of the James Hutton Institute in Scotland told The Guardian: “The level of heatwaves and droughts we’re experiencing now has been predicted by climate scientists for years. What we’re seeing is a clear signal of what the future holds.” Some environmentalists fear that some rivers and reservoirs are already recovering from drought.

Current weather forecasts also offer little hope. Temperatures are expected to drop again and a couple of showers are expected across the country. Meteorologists said flash floods are likely as the land is too dry to absorb heavy rainfall and store water.

proof’s: UK Environment and Hydrology Centre, MET Office, Government UK, Essexlive“The Guardians”, CNN

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