Severe drought spreading across Europe

June and July brought record high temperatures and big rainfall deficits in many parts of the European Union


Drought conditions were widespread across Europe during June and July.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The western U.S. isn’t the only part of the world experiencing severe drought this year. Across much of central Europe, extremely warm temperatures and lack of rainfall have combined to create the worst drought conditions since 2003.

Hardest hit have been France, Benelux, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, northern Italy and northern Spain, according to new information released by the European Drought Observatory. The report includes data from satellite imagery showing that the areas with the largest rainfall deficits also recorded exceptionally high maximum daily temperatures, in some cases reaching record values. Continue reading

Morning photo: Gorge du Verdon

The Grand Canyon of Europe

During the last few days of this visit to the Provence, I finally had a chance to visit the Gorge du Verdon, where the Verdon River has cut an impressive path through the massive limestone plateau that characterizes much of the Provence region geologically. Along with all sorts of recreation, the gorge, through a trove of fossils and other evidence, has revealed many secrets of the prehistoric people who lived in the region. The canyon walls tower as high as 2,500 feet over the aquamarine water in places, and the winding roads along the rim offer great access to view points and to trailheads leading deep in to the heart of the canyon. Truly, the Grand Canyon of Europe!

Morning photo: Window seat!

‘Not all who wander are lost’

FRISCO —This summer’s trip has been a little different so far. I’m missing my travel companions, Leigh and Dylan, with whom I’ve shared some amazing adventures all over the world the past few years. For the first time in a while, I left Colorado by myself to join part of my family in Linz, Austria, where my mom grew up. A big part of this trip was to be there to accompany mom’s sister, my aunt Erika, safely back from Austria to her home in France. She and her husband Pierre were inveterate travelers, but both are in their 90s now, so it’s not always easy for them to get around. But we made it safely, even during a pretty extreme mid-summer heatwave and are now enjoying a cool glass of rosé from a family vineyard on the patio of their 200-year old house. I’m brushing up on my French and enjoying just being with two people who have seen so much in their lives, and who radiate contentment and calm.

Morning photo: Euro set

Have passport, will travel!

FRISCO —Sunday is the traditional day for travel sections in print newspapers, so every now and then I get the urge to post some travel-related content on this “day of rest.” Most of our readers these days know Summit Voice as a source for environmental news, but long-time followers know that, every now and then, we like to mix it up with tales of adventure and discovery in far-away places, like the time we enjoyed mystery meat and talking bumblebees on the Dutch island of Texel, or rambled through the mountains of Albania. Check out all our travel content here, and for daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

Morning photo: Austria!

Colorful countryside …

FRISCO —Not sure exactly what spurred me to re-post a few of my favorite shots from what I consider to be at least my spiritual homeland. Both my parents hail from towns along the banks of the Danube, albeit from different countries, and every now then, I realize that, for all the decades I’ve lived in the West, there’s a big part of me that’s still connected to this wonderful slice of Central Europe. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

Climate: Longer droughts, warmer temps to fuel massive increase in European forest fires


Smoke from forest fires in Greece streams out across the Mediterranean Sea. GIF composite image via NASA and Wikipedia.

Study projects 200 percent increase in burned areas by 2090 without mitigation and adaptation

Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —The American West isn’t alone in facing an increased wildfire threat. Global warming is expected to result in a sharp increase in European forest fires during the coming decades. By 2090, areas burned by fires could increase by as much as 200 percent, according to a new study published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.

Warmer temperatures and longer droughts will combine to fuel forest fire conditions in areas that are already susceptible, particularly the Mediterranean region, the researchers said, suggesting that better forest management, including preventive fires, could keep the increase to less than 50 percent. Continue reading

Climate study explores link between El Niño, the polar vortex and extreme cold outbreaks in Europe

Cold snaps more likely during El Niño winters


How does El Niño affect weather in Europe?

Staff Report

FRISCO —El Niños don’t just affect anchovy fishermen in Peru and the ski resorts of the Sierra Nevada. The somewhat cyclical variation in equatorial Pacific sea surface temps can shift weather patterns worldwide, including in Europe, which may be more susceptible to extreme cold outbreaks in El Niño years, according to a new study led by a University of Colorado, Boulder researcher.

Other research has hinted at the connection, but the new paper is the first to show that El Niños might be linked with Sudden Stratospheric Warming events, when temperatures high in the atmosphere change radically, affect the polar vortex, a belt of winds that form a boundary between the cold Arctic and the temperate mid-latitudes. Sudden Stratospheric Warming weakens those winds, often leading to outbreaks of bitter cold Arctic air across Europe and possibly the eastern U.S. Continue reading


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