The 2022 Northern Hemisphere summer was one of the hottest ever recorded in Europe with over 24,000 heat-related fatalities, and brought intense heatwaves to parts of China and North America.
The 2022 Northern Hemisphere summer was one of the hottest ever recorded in Europe with over 24,000 heat-related fatalities, and brought intense heatwaves to parts of China and North America. It was also very dry, and the resulting drought caused widespread water shortages, wildfires and crop failures leading to higher food prices, as well as impacts on electricity supply.
An international team of climate scientists led by the research group of Sonia Seneviratne, Professor for Land-Climate Dynamics at ETH Zurich, now analysed the possible influence of climate change on this extreme weather event. Their external pagestudycall_made published by the World Weather Attribution group estimates that human-caused climate change made soil moisture drought conditions in the Northern Hemisphere at least 20 times more likely, threatening crop production and adding further pressure to food prices and food security.
Intense agricultural and ecological droughts
For their study, the researchers analysed soil moisture levels in June, July and August 2022, across the whole Northern Hemisphere, excluding the tropics. They also focused on Western and Central Europe, which experienced particularly severe drought with substantially reduced crop yields. Soil moisture dryness in the top metre of soil, known as the root zone where plants extract water, is often referred to as agricultural and ecological drought.
Read more at: ETH Zurich