25 July 2019

It’s Europe’s Turn to Swelter: Heat, Low Rainfall Strain Water Supply

News

Temperatures are expected to hit record highs across Europe on Thursday, worsening a yearslong drought that has triggered a rare water emergency across the continent—parching crops, sapping rivers and forcing governments from Spain to the Netherlands to enact draconian conservation measures.

The heat—and two consecutive summers of low rainfall—has pushed Europe into a continentwide scramble to conserve water more typical in water-stressed regions, like the Western U.S.

The protracted lack of rain the past two years has hit a European economy that—like other places in the world—has grown increasingly dependent on access to lots of water: to quench and wash an expanding population; to irrigate fast-expanding, industrial-scale farming and industry; and to transport raw materials and finished goods to markets across the continent. Amid these growing demands, Europe, like the rest of the world, has recorded rising temperatures, attributed to climate change, that have exacerbated conditions.

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