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Continue to dry

Forests in need

A speculation

Icon image: Chester Ho

The Energy and Climate Weekly Show: Of floods, droughts and soy deserts, of burning forests, a new free trade agreement and the dawn of the automotive industry

Japan was hit by extreme rainfall over the weekend. Many people were killed, especially on Kyushu, the southernmost of the main islands. There and in the northern parts of the country numerous rivers burst their banks. The Masses of water as well as numerous slides destroyed streets, bridges, Buildings and countless vehicles.

The Japan Times reported on Monday of 22 confirmed fatalities and another 18 for whom there is little prospect. Some villages are cut off from the outside world, in some places the power transmission lines are destroyed. There will be more heavy rains in the coming days predicted.

Given the many peoplewho have to leave their endangered or already destroyed houses and are now accommodated in emergency accommodation in gyms, to warn Disease experts before the spread of the Covid 19 virus. If, as stipulated in the Japanese disaster plans, everyone is allowed a little more than one and a half square meters, it is not possible to keep a sufficient distance. Regardless of the storms, the number of new infections increased again in Japan last week.

Meanwhile, Central and Eastern Europe have completely different problems, including that of mirror reported. Despite the precipitation of the past few weeks, the groundwater level has still not recovered from the two previous dry years and the low-precipitation winter and spring.

This is shown by satellite measurements and, for Germany, much more detailed than the one made at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig Drought monitor. It looks a little less dramatic due to the recent rainfall at the top of the soil, which is particularly important for the plants. But here, too, large parts of Ukraine are one important grain exporter is deep red like Data released by NASA set out.

Apparently, the dry years are part of a longer trend. One published in March by the European Environment Agency analysis The precipitation data from 1950 to 2015 show an increase in droughts for almost the entire area of ​​the member countries. Only in parts of Scandinavia, in western Scotland, on Iceland and in the east of Turkey, the low precipitation periods tend to decrease. This largely corresponds to what climate science expects in a warmer world.

The consequences of the drought are not yet felt in the cities in this country, but it looks a bit different in the country. Out Lower Saxony For example, the ZDF reports that in the Osnabrück district there it was forbidden to irrigate fields, green spaces and sports facilities between 12 and 6 p.m. until the end of September. This is how water should be used more efficiently. Depending on the type of irrigation, up to 40 percent of the water used can evaporate before the plants can use it.

The Brandenburg Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Protection has the counties and cities askedto use water more economically. Restrictions on the extraction of surface water have already been imposed in various counties in the east and southeast.

In the past two years there have been repeated extreme low water situations with dry-flowing watercourses, considerable water level losses in the lakes and falling groundwater levels. The winter months could not compensate for the water deficits. Due to the lack of precipitation in March and April, the hydrological situation in all of Brandenburg’s river basins has recovered only marginally, despite the sometimes abundant precipitation in May and June.

The drought is now massively affecting forests across the country. 245,000 hectares of forest have already been destroyed, reported the Frankfurter Rundschau. This corresponds almost to the area of ​​the Saarland. The forest floors are dust-dry to great depths.

Other factors put additional pressure on the stressed trees. The mild winter has spared the bark beetle, which is now falling all over the weakened pine. Added to this are the long-running favorites known since the 1980s, such as nitrogen oxides from the emissions of power plants and especially vehicles, as well as the ammonia released in agriculture to a great extent. Both contribute to the acidification of the soil and the washing out of nutrients.

Nevertheless, the Bundestag with the so-called Coal Exit Act last week decided that, under certain circumstances, the use of biomass – including wood – should be promoted in former coal-fired power plants. This is certainly bad news for Europe’s forests.

According to a study by Berliners, this is already the case taz writes, logging has increased significantly in the EU countries. Most recently, the commercial timber harvest was almost 50 percent above the level of 2016, the analysis of satellite images showed. In addition, there is also a significant increase in damage from forest fires and insect damage in the other EU countries.

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