Drought in Spain ‘alarming’ for primary sector

by Lorraine Williamson
drought worries

MADRID – Spain dries up: research shows that Spain will suffer the most from extreme drought. The country, along with France, the Mediterranean, and the Alpine regions, is listed as “hotspots” for future droughts. 

Neither Filomena at the beginning of the year nor the recent stormy periods with the arrival of autumn have been able to put an end to the drought in Spain: the lack of sufficient rainfall to replenish the aquifers has an “alarming” effect on the primary sector in some regions, various sources explain to Efe. 

Intense future droughts

Meteorologist José Miguel Viñas says 2021 has not solved water problems so far and regrets that while “a long-term rain forecast cannot be made”, the climate projections point to “longer and more intense droughts in the future.” 

The current hydrological year gives a precipitation figure below normal. This makes autumn drier than usual, as the forecasts for October and November were already seasonal. “The figure is ‘bad, given the situation we started from’,” added Viñas. 

The situation of the hydrological basins in Spain “is worrying at the moment”. There are major shortages in the Guadalquivir (Andalucia) and Guadiana (Extremadura) basins in particular,. This is compared to the average of the last ten years. 

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“hot spots” for drought 

A scientific study published in the digital journal Frontiers in Water by researchers from the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich (Germany) identifies Spain, along with France and the regions of the Alps and the Mediterranean as “hotspots” for drought in the future. 

The study warns that by the end of the 21st century, periods of meteorological drought due to the temperature rise in the Iberian Peninsula could last well past summer. Also, with a “tendency to dry out throughout the year”. And with a “decreasing percentage” of summer drought offset by wet winters”. 

The outlook is particularly stressful for farmworkers in autonomous communities such as Andalucia. There, “we are facing two years of significant water shortages” and prospects that are “not positive at all”. This is according to the regional secretary of the Union of Small Farmers (UPA), Cristóbal. Cano. He stressed the data provided by the Hydrographic Confederation of the Guadalquivir is “the worst in the past 25 years.” 

Desertification Process Progressing Significantly in Eastern Andalucia 

All Andalucian provinces are suffering the effects of this drought, although the incidence is higher in the eastern area, especially in Granada and Almería, where, according to Cano, “the desertification process is also progressing considerably”. Another area severely affected in this sense is the region of Murcia. While winter and spring have brought rain to the Murcian countryside, “allowing to take better advantage of the harvests”, the summer has been very “dry” and forecasts for the rest of 2021 remain scanty in rains, explains. Canoe out. At present, Murcia’s water reserve is only 21.62% of capacity. In Andalucia, it is 30.30%. The region in the best position with 61.51% is Madrid. Even the wet regions in the northwest of Spain, except the Basque Country and Asturias, are less than 50% capacity. 

Frequency of rainfall 

Both Viñas, Cano, and Moreno record a higher rainfall intensity compared to previous years despite the decrease in rainfall frequency. This translates into big storms that bring tens of litres in a few minutes, causing the water to flow straight out to the sea and the majority of it not entering the aquifers and reserves and thus not reaching the crops, with all the damaging consequences that entails. 

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