Europe

Drought Likely to Continue in Parts of Spain

In spite of a wet March, Spain is expected to experience another hot and dry summer, which is increasingly becoming the new normal.

Mar. 9, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

Recent News

While the north of Spain and Por­tu­gal are in for an unusu­ally wet spring, the threat of drought remains in Span­ish olive coun­try.

The warm and dry weather will come at a cost as the threat for drought con­di­tions will grow in east­ern Spain,” AccuWeather senior mete­o­rol­o­gist Alan Rep­pert said.

Now we need to begin to fill our aquifers and swamps and allow crops to recover from the tremen­dous drought.- ASAJA Jaén

Pro­longed dry spells dur­ing spring may cause prob­lems for agri­cul­ture due to a lack of soil mois­ture in areas that typ­i­cally see very infre­quent rain­fall dur­ing the sum­mer.”

Rep­pert said that south­ern Spain should expect sub­stan­tial rain over the next sev­eral weeks, mean­ing it will take longer to dry out. He also expects sev­eral spring­time storms to pass through west­ern Spain. How­ever, all this expected pre­cip­i­ta­tion may not be enough to coun­ter­act another hot and dry sum­mer.

Sum­mer is look­ing like it will be dry over the area, which is nor­mal, but the dry weather will be even more ampli­fied this year,” he said. Nor­mal rain­fall in parts of east­ern Spain are around an inch or lower, but even with nor­mal rain­fall being so low there will likely be below nor­mal rain­fall there.”

How­ever, the heart of Span­ish olive coun­try cur­rently is enjoy­ing a rainy March. Jorge Olcina, the head of the Uni­ver­sity of Ali­can­te’s cli­mate insti­tute, pre­dicts that the region will have a wet March and receive more rain­fall in May and June. How­ever, he also pre­dicts that April, July and August will be very hot and dry.

The Agri­cul­tural Asso­ci­a­tion of Young Farm­ers (ASAJA) in Jaén said that farm­ers need to be dili­gent with all the recent rain­fall and use the water to replen­ish their aquifers.

The rains were wide­spread through­out the province and it is fore­casted to con­tinue,” an ASAJA Jaén spokesper­son said. Now we need to begin to fill our aquifers and swamps and allow crops to recover from the tremen­dous drought.”

In spite of the recent rain, experts do not think Spain is in the clear yet. Over the past three years, Spain has received con­sid­er­ably less rain­fall than nor­mal. Last year, the region received between 50 and 80 per­cent of its nor­mal pre­cip­i­ta­tion totals.

For the past sev­eral years there has been below nor­mal pre­cip­i­ta­tion,” Rep­pert said. Aver­ages are based on 30-year totals, and the cur­rent ones are from 1980 to 2010, and when we get to the new aver­ages of 1990 to 2020, that will likely drop aver­ages even fur­ther for rain­fall and see aver­age tem­per­a­tures climb too.”

Cli­ma­tol­o­gists believe this is part of a chang­ing pat­tern and that the Iber­ian Penin­sula is shift­ing from a more tem­per­ate cli­mate to a sub­trop­i­cal one.

“[The region] tends to have more sub­trop­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics with higher tem­per­a­tures and rarer and more intense rains,” Olcina said. So cli­mate-related risks — heat­waves and rain and droughts and floods, will increase in the com­ing decades.”

Olcina said the whole of Spain, but the specif­i­cally the south, should expect hot­ter autumns and springs than nor­mal. His cli­mate mod­els pre­dict a con­sis­tent decrease in pre­cip­i­ta­tion with the trend con­tin­u­ing well past 2050.

This is the cli­mate sce­nario to which agri­cul­ture must adapt in the com­ing decades,” he said. More heat and more irreg­u­lar rain­fall, with less rain in spring, very dry sum­mers and some­thing more humid the autumns.”

Cal­lum Hen­der­son is the owner of Great Oil, which pro­duces oil from locally sourced olives in Jaén. He is skep­ti­cal that this year will be worse than the pre­vi­ous one, in which there was vir­tu­ally no rain­fall from April to Sep­tem­ber with record-high tem­per­a­tures.

Hen­der­son said that the farm­ers with whom he works are enjoy­ing the rain ahead of what he antic­i­pates will be a dry, but not drier than usual, sum­mer.

The farm­ers are doing what they always do,” he said. My best guess is aver­age rain­fall this spring, [but] that’s in Mother Nature’s hands.”





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