Europe has experienced its worst drought in 500 years, with two-thirds of the continent receiving some form of warning.
Now satellite video has shown the extent of this dry weather from space.
A sequence of images in the footage compares how Europe looked in July and August this year compared to 2021, showing how the continent has turned from a rich green to a dry brown due to the lack of rain.
That The video was tweeted by the European Union’s Copernicus program, which operates the Sentinel constellation of Earth observation satellites.
WHAT IS THE COPERNICUS PROGRAM?
The multi-billion dollar Copernicus program aims to help predict weather phenomena like El Nino and track the progress of global warming.
Three groups of twin satellites are currently orbiting the Earth, named Copernicus Sentinel-1, 2 and 3.
Your data can also help shipping companies plan more efficient routes and can be used to monitor wildfires, water pollution and oil spills.
The Copernicus project is described by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the most ambitious Earth observation program to date.
The start of the Copernicus project became particularly urgent after Europe lost contact with its Earth observation satellite Envisat in 2012 after 10 years.
“In 2022 #drought has affected all of Europe,” Copernicus said in the tweet.
Images taken by the Sentinel 2 satellite show that vegetation has suffered extensive damage from southern and eastern England to northern France and even eastern Europe.
It follows the release last month of a report by the European Drought Observatory (EDO), overseen by the European Commission, which said 47 percent of Europe was under alert conditions.
It added that 17 percent of Europe is in a state of alert with vegetation being affected and that the continent has faced its worst drought since medieval times.
This year’s European summer is believed to be the driest since a mega-drought that hit the continent in 1540.
“The severe drought that has been affecting many regions of Europe since the beginning of the year has continued to spread and worsen since early August,” the report said, adding that by then the western Euro-Mediterranean region is likely to be warmer and drier than going to be normal November.
Much of Europe faced weeks of extremely hot temperatures this summer, worsening droughts, causing wildfires, sparking health warnings and sparking calls for more action to tackle climate change.
Summer crops have suffered, with 2022 grain corn yields expected to be 16 percent below the previous five-year average and soybean and sunflower yields expected to fall 15 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
Hydroelectric power generation has been impacted, with further impacts on other power generators due to water shortages to feed cooling systems.
Low water levels have hampered inland navigation, for example along the Rhine, as shiploads affect coal and oil transport.
The scale of the devastating wildfires across Europe this summer was such that it has resulted in the highest emissions since 2007, a new report also says.
Burnt: This image shows what Europa looked like from space in July and August. Because of the lack of rain it was a dry brown
For comparison, this satellite image shows what Europe looked like from space in the same period last year
Temperatures in excess of 40°C were observed in parts of Portugal, Spain, France and the UK in July, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
Muggy: July 2022 was one of the world’s top three hottest July on record, satellite data shows – while it was southwest Europe’s warmest on record in terms of peak heat
Emissions recorded for the summer of 2022 were largely caused by the devastating wildfires in south-west France and the Iberian Peninsula, with France and Spain experiencing the highest wildfire emissions of the last 20 years.
The combination of the August heat wave and prolonged drought across western Europe led to increased wildfire activity, intensity and persistence.
Scientists from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service have been monitoring daily intensity and emissions and resulting air quality impacts from these fires, as well as other wildfires around the world, throughout the summer.
Mark Parrington, Chief Scientist and Wildfire Expert at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said: “The scale and duration of the fires in south-west Europe, which resulted in the highest emissions in Europe in 15 years, has been of grave concern throughout the summer.
“Most fires have occurred in locations where climate change has increased the flammability of vegetation, such as in southwestern Europe, and as we have seen in other regions in other years.”
The scale of the devastating wildfires across Europe this summer was such that it has resulted in the highest emissions since 2007, a new report also says. This graph shows the total estimated carbon emissions from wildfires from 2003 to 2022
‘We are on the fastest way to climate catastrophe’: The damning UN report warns that greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 at the latest to limit global warming to 2.7°F
To reach the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest, a UN report warns.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report claims there is a “short and rapidly closing window” to limit warming to 2100.
According to the report, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must be reduced by a whopping 48 percent by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 if we are to meet the target.
At the same time, methane emissions must be cut by a third by 2030 and almost halved by 2050.
As things stand, we are currently on track for global warming of 5.7°F (3.2°C) by 2100, with devastating consequences for “all living things,” according to the IPCC.
“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can ensure a future worth living. We have the tools and know-how needed to limit warming,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the report an “act of shame” and warned that we were on a “fast track to climate catastrophe”.