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Drought Bulletin July 2023

Percentage of territory affected by severe-extreme drought - SPI24 (source Drought Observatory - CNR IBE)

On a global scale, July 2023 has proven to be the warmest month on record. Extreme events have also characterized this month. Intense heatwaves have affected the northern hemisphere, causing environmental damage (fires have devastated various areas, from Canada to the Mediterranean, particularly in Algeria, Greece, Italy, and Spain) and impacting human health.
Considering monthly rainfall, Europe has been divided in two, with above-average values in the northern regions, the Black Sea, and Ukraine. Drier conditions have affected the Mediterranean, especially southeastern zones and central-southern Italy.
However, medium- and long-term accumulations have shown a deficit in the central-eastern and northern portions of the continent. Going back 24 months, central-western and eastern countries still have areas affected by severe to extreme drought.

Sea Surface Temperature (SST) has exhibited significant anomalies in the Mediterranean, with values up to 4-5 °C above the average in the western sector, accompanied by several “marine heatwaves,” as evidenced by Copernicus Marine Service Information data.
In Italy, surface water reserves show varied values depending on the region. Notable problems are concentrated in the North, at Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, while eastern lakes like Garda and Iseo are faring better. The situation in the central-southern regions is more favourable, with exceptions like Lake Trasimeno. Reservoirs in the South have decreased due to irrigation usage but maintain satisfactory levels.
As of early August, the flow of the Po River was below average in the Piedmont section and halved in Piacenza (Source: ANBI). At the Pontelagoscuro (FE) section, the water level hovers around -6m, approximately 1m higher than in the same period last year. From the perspective of hydroelectric production, the northern regions are showing significantly higher values compared to 2022.

Forecast for the Upcoming Months

Regarding air temperatures for the September-November quarter, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) indicates above-average values across practically all of Europe. The same holds true for sea surface temperatures in the Mediterranean. As for precipitation, the quarter may experience, with a probability ranging from 40% to 70%, above-normal rainfall, especially in Mediterranean countries, particularly central-southern Italy, the Balkans, and Greece.



Read the complete June 2023 Bulletin

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