DriDanube - Drought 2018 – hitting hard the Northern and Central Europe but affecting also the Danube river basin


Summary of the Drought Watch Campaign

DriDanube partners are developing a new transboudary drought monitoring and early warning tool called Drought Watch (before referred to as Drought User Service - DUS). This tool will combine data from the satellites, meteorological stations and drought impact reports into ready-to-use drought information available to public through web-browser interface.

Since the Drought Watch prototype was developed in the spring 2018, we decided to test it and to monitor the drought situation in the Danube region over the summer 2018. The monitored period was from the end of May till mid-September during which we ran a Drought 2018 Watch Campaign.

This year drought compared to the previous one in 2017 had much bigger and severe impacts on all sectors in northern and central Europe. Recorded precipitation was below normal, soil moisture deficits were worsened especially in central Europe, water levels in rivers dropped (especially Rhine and Danube) and caused problems in navigation, tourism and agricultural sector. High water temperatures further led to impacts on water quality and fish populations (source: EDO Drought reports).

Soil Moisture Anomaly in central and northern Europe, projected to 15th August 2018. Source: EDO

Drought situation in the Danube region displayed by DriDanube Drought Watch corresponds well with the situation described by European Drought Observatory (EDO) above.

Soil Water Index on 19 August 2018 across the Danube region as seen in Drought Watch.

Drought impacts, especially in agricultural and water sector, were detected also in the Danube basin, especially in central and northern parts (Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary). 

People stand on a shoal under the Margaret Bridge during the period of low water
level in Budapest, Hungary, August 22, 2018. Photo credits: REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

During the testing of our Drought Watch we were preparing bi-weekly Regional Drought Bulletins on situation in the Danube region that summarized:

  • the state of soil and vegetation supported by the maps from Drought Watch based on SWI
  • the impacts on vegetation supported by condition of vegetation maps
  • the impacts on agriculture reported by national reporting networks supported by drought impact maps

Estimated drought impacts on vegetation between 3 - 16 September.

To see the Regional Drought Bulletins, please visit the Drought 2018 Watch section of our project webpage.

Drought Watch can be a great tool for the decision makers, especially to monitor and detect droughts on transboundary level. It gives the first impulse of the situation which should lead to further decisions and implementation of timely drought mitigation measures in order to avoid bigger losses and impacts of drought.

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)