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No rain and drought grab Italy by the throat. And winter feels like summer

Po, Ticino, ma anche i grandi laghi del Nord registrano livelli d’acqua preoccupanti. Gli eventi estremi aumentano di frequenza e intensità, segno che i cambiamenti climatici sono già in atto.

Just a few rainfalls and snowfalls and temperatures above the seasonal average. This is the kind of winter Italy is going through, which has brought Italian major basins to their knees. “In January, rainfalls registered a decreased by 60% compared to the seasonal average. The month of December was the driest in 215 years – when recording has begun -, whilst November’s rainfalls halved,” reported Coldiretti, Europe’s largest agricultural professional organization.

 

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Part of the Po river dried up

 

2015 was the hottest year on record, but this year’s winter feels like summer: Po River’s conditions are similar to those usually found during summer. Its water levels, in fact, are 2 metres lower than last year, according to surveys carried out by Coldiretti in Pontelagoscuro, in the Province of Ferrara, at the end of January.

 

Lakes in Northern Italy are facing water shortage too. Lake Maggiore lacks 330 billion litres of water, the renowned Lake Como’s water levels decreased by 12%, whilst Lake Garda’s levels dropped by 33%. Besides the fact that almost no rainfalls were registered over the past few months, snow is missing too, with the Alps and the Apennines sadly barren. In fact, some ski areas didn’t manage to open totally, having ski slopes still covered with grass. According to Coldiretti, it’s necessary to act by bringing water to lakes and ensuring the minimum vital flow in order to avoid risks of land desertification, which could have severe effects on agriculture and the environment.

 

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Un’ansa del fiume rimasta senz’acqua.

 

According to the Italian Association of Farmers (CIA), it’s upsetting how high temperatures and the consequent drought translated into agricultural costs worth 650 million euros and 2.9 billion euros respectively. In addition, about one fifth of damages were caused by extreme weather conditions. From 2007 and 2015, crops yields decreased by up to 80%.

Translated by

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