Drought in Europe hits agricultural production
Persistent drought and high temperatures that impacted Northern Europe will likely result in significant losses for local agricultural production, according to the latest Aon Benfield Weekly Cat Report.
The meteorological pattern also generated favourable conditions for the spread of wildfires, which have been particularly severe in Sweden, the report noted. Both the dry spell and the wildfire outbreak were described as one of the most significant in modern history.
An intense dry spell has been affecting parts of Scandinavia, the Baltic region and the North European Plain from the Netherlands to Belarus for several months. According to the analytical report of the European Drought Observatory, the dry spell in Scandinavia commenced already in early spring. This pattern created preconditions for severe fire risk across Northern Europe, due to a severe soil moisture deficit, persistent high temperatures and a lack of precipitation.
The current drought period may seriously affect agricultural production in the most affected countries, particularly Sweden, Denmark and Baltic countries, as early predictions estimate reductions in harvest in tens of percent. However, the quality and quantity of the harvest will heavily depend on meteorological conditions in next weeks and months.
Significant losses are expected in Denmark, where severe soil moisture deficit hit the entire national territory. Southern and Central Sweden is no less affected and wildfires burned a significant extent of forests.
Severe drought also continues in Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia). Lithuanian government declared the event a national emergency, Latvia recognizes the event as a “natural disaster on a national scale”. Persistent drought prompted authorities to impose water consumption restrictions in some countries.
Danish Agriculture and Food Council stated that the dry spell is “likely to result in losses of DNK4.5 billion ($700 million)”. Other institutions, such as the Lithuanian Ministry of Agriculture also expect notable financial losses.
A very preliminary estimate regarding wildfire damage in Sweden to the local forestry industry was listed at SEK600 million ($68 million). During the past weeks, Sweden endured large wildfires that burned across the country and according to EFFIS burned more than 8,000 hectares (19,750 acres) of land.
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency described the fires as the “most serious” for the country in modern times. Local authorities acknowledged that the primary source of ignition of many of the fires might have been a human factor, although dry and hot weather remains a key contributor to the spread of the fires. Among the worst affected regions were Gävleborg, Jämtland and Dalarna in Central Sweden, where thousands were told to evacuate.
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