Spain has officially entered a period of prolonged drought due to high temperatures and low rainfall over the past three years, and is potentially facing another year of heat waves and wildfires.
The country’s Emet weather agency said on Friday that data showed Spain entered a long-term drought at the end of 2022 and showed no major signs of change in the first three months of 2023.
“The first available predictions for the summer of 2023 point once again to the potential for above-normal temperatures,” said Emet spokesman Ruben del Campo.
But Del Campo pointed out that the country has experienced severe droughts before 2017, 2005, and in the late 1990s and 1980s.
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“To put it in context, we are in a drought situation, but there are worse droughts, which is not to say that it won’t be important,” he told a news conference.
Amet says Spain is geographically vulnerable to high temperatures and drought, but climate change is a major factor.
Del Campo said Spain has warmed 34 F since the 1960s, a warming that is noticeable throughout the year but especially in summer — when the average temperature has risen 1.6 degrees.
He noted that such an increase may not seem very large, but pointed out that “when we talk about landscapes as large as the Iberian Peninsula, half a million square kilometers, annual data, this trend translates into many hours of heat.” does,” which he said has doubled the number of summer hours in the last 10 to 12 years compared to previous years.
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Last year was the sixth driest year in Spain and the warmest year since 1961, when records began. Precipitation was 16% below average and daily temperatures topped 59 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time.
However, December was the rainiest in recent years, which improved the situation considerably. Recent rains have increased water storage in reservoirs to 51% of capacity, well above the dangerous level of less than 35% at the end of 2022. But at least two regions, notably Spain’s northeastern Catalonia around Barcelona, are in dire straits.
Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition says that while the situation is “worrying”, there are no current restrictions on drinking water in any part and none are envisaged this year.
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There may be local agricultural and industrial water restrictions, as was the case with Catalonia, which has had to restrict water use in agriculture and industry from November 2022. Use of potable water for washing cars or filling swimming pools is prohibited.
Land heat waves have become common in many countries around the Mediterranean, with dramatic side effects such as wildfires, drought, crop loss and uncomfortably high temperatures.
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