Hot, Dry Spring Forecast Ups Crop Risk in Southern Europe

(Bloomberg) — Southern Europe is likely to experience blistering and dry weather for a key part of the growing season, potentially leading to problems for farmers and businesses that rely on steady water flows.

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Data generated by the Copernicus Climate Change Service signals a minimum 60% probability that most of southern Europe will experience well-above average temperatures between April and June. Parts of Italy and the Iberian peninsula have a 60% to 70% chance of exceeding median historical temperatures over the past three decades.

On Wednesday, scientists at Copernicus updated their seasonal outlook, used by farmers, insurers and utilities to help adapt to a warming planet. Abnormally high temperatures could support natural gas prices heading into summer, as people rely on power to operate air conditioning.

Data also suggest that much of Italy, Portugal and Spain have a 40% to 50% chance of significantly lower precipitation than usual between April and June.

Scientists are already bracing for 2024 temperatures to top the historic heat logged in 2023. Every month last year was warmer than the 1991-2020 average, and the latter part of the year, after El Niño set in, shattered records. Each month from June through December was hotter than ever in recorded history.

The Copernicus program — the world’s biggest provider of climate data — uses billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world for its monthly and seasonal forecasts. Along with the European Space Agency, it plays a central role in the European Union’s €16 billion ($17.1 billion) effort to get ahead of climate change through accurate forecasting.

Over the next month, projected high pressure over the North Pole means northern European economies could experience colder-than-average temperatures. Parts of central and eastern Europe could be wetter-than-average, Copernicus wrote on its website.

(Updates with Copernicus statement in the final paragraph)

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