How global warming is changing when Europe's rain arrives
Along with the rest of the planet, Europe is bracing for the impacts of climate change. Some areas are facing a range of risks, ranging from droughts to floods, but how well do we understand what to expect and how to respond?
In Nicosia, Cyprus the rains that turn one riverbed into a river are becoming less frequent, and more intense. This accelerates soil erosion, bringing more sediment. A check dam was built in the area to slow the river down so that water could soak into the ground, but increasing sediment is a hindrance.
Adriana Bruggeman, Researcher in hydrology and water management at the Cyprus Institute, tells euronews that:
The concern is that, in this semi-arid country, more and more water will evaporate before reaching underground aquifers. Researchers take regular soil samples to learn how quickly, or how slowly, the river water can pass through the growing layer of dense sediment.
Corrado Camera, Reseacher in hydrology and earth sciences at the Cyprus Institute, explains the work of collecting samples:
To get a better idea of water circulation, researchers take other measurements too, and at one forest station researchers study the effect had by trees. The tree canopy traps some of the rain water causing it to evaporate before reaching the ground, whilst the root system pumps underground water upwards for the tree to grow, in a process known as transpiration.
Marinos Eliades, Researcher in ecohydrology at the Cyprus Institute explains what he is doing:
The Cyprus study helps local agriculture to adapt to changes in water availability, for example, by suggesting more water-efficient crops.
That is just one angle of this large European research project studying climate-related water issues.
In Mülheim, Germany, one million inhabitants depend on a system of water reservoirs which needs to remain balanced.
Here, stronger summer rains increase the risk of flash floods. Researchers use meteorological data, along with their measurements of water flows on the surface and within the soil, to better understand changes in the water cycle.
Marc Scheibel, Researcher in water resource and flood risk management, Wupperverband, tells euronews:
The BINGO project, studying test sites in six countries, aims to come up with a detailed ten-year forecast of climate change effects in Europe, including the impact on agriculture, industry, tourism and other sectors of the economy.
Rafaela Matos, BINGO project coordinator, and researcher in hydraulics and environment at LNEC, says: