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Climate change will dry soil in Europe

Climate change will dry soil in Europe

With climate change, near-surface soil, which is the principal source of water for plants, will become increasingly dry almost everywhere in Europe in the course of the 21st century.

If we are unable to get greenhouse gas emissions under control, the projected change will be alarmingly high especially in Southern Europe. The impact on Northern Europe would seem to be somewhat less severe. The study assessed changes in the moisture content of the near-surface soil layer during the 21st century by examining the outputs of 26 global climate change models. As temperatures rise, water is evaporated from soil more efficiently, which has a drying effect on the soil. In Southern Europe and in summer also in Central Europe, drying will be aggravated by the projected decline in rainfall. If greenhouse gas emissions increase uncontrollably, many areas in Southern Europe would see periods of extremely low soil moisture even more frequently than every second summer by the end of the century. 

Correspondingly, we would experience severe soil drought in Finland during 2 or 3 years per decade. In these calculations, summers classified as dry in each area are summers during which the soil is drier than it was on average once in a decade in the climate prevailing at the end of the 20th century.

More information:

Researcher Kimmo Ruosteenoja,

Ruosteenoja, K., T. Markkanen, A. Venäläinen, P. Räisänen and H. Peltola, 2017: Seasonal soil moisture and drought occurrence in
Europe in CMIP5 projections for the 21st century. Climate Dynamics. doi:10.1007/s00382-017-3671-4.


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