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  • Writer's pictureDirk

Water stress in the water towers of the world

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

Europe was hit by a heatwave early summer 2019. Parts of Europe, including also Eastern Germany, has not even recovered from the 2018 drought and the 2019 heatwave made the lack of water even more pronounced. As a local politician in Toulouse suggested (see my blog entry Power for the People), larger water reservoirs may help. Do they?

This year’s field season started early August and by now we have visited over two thirds of our regular lakes. Along the way to our sites we already saw the shortage of water. All rivers show their skeleton of stones and rocks, the river banks are extensive this year, and we saw some anglers, likely stone fishing, as anything else would be absurd.Where normally waterfalls are only small rivulets can be seen. They dribble away, small rivulet, drop by drop... Many of the wetlands in the mountains are dry or nearly so.

Our lakes are 30 - 50 cm below their normal water level. A rather shocking sight. The vegetation also shows signs of water stress, where the Pyrenees normally show a dark green and lush forests they are brown and yellow brown these days.

The water stress report shows that many countries in Europe suffer from water stress, including France. The interesting thing is that the water stress of the Pyrenees is only estimated to be medium to high. However, the signs in the mountains are much more drastic, on some slopes there are many dried out trees and give the forest an autumnal colour - in August. The forests function of carbon sequestration must be surely reduced under such conditions.

Mountains are much more sensitive to climate change and it will be interesting to analyse our samples to see how this dry period affects the functioning of mountain lakes and the interactions between biota.

By the way, where there is no water, no water reserve can be full....

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