low level of water in dam

Drought commission meets to discuss dry springtime

Meeting takes place when almost half country already in meteorological drought

The commission for monitoring the effects of drought meets today for the first time this year when almost half the country is in meteorological drought, and three reservoirs are at less than 15% capacity.

The 13th Meeting of the Permanent Commission for the Prevention, Monitoring and Follow-up of Drought Effects (CPPMAES) is chaired by the ministers of environment and climate action, and agriculture, Duarte Cordeiro and Maria do Céu Antunes.

In recent public statements, Duarte Cordeiro has admitted that ‘contigency measures’ might be necessary.

According to the latest climatological bulletin of the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), the meteorological drought situation increased in mainland Portugal during March, worsening particularly in the southern region. At the time 48% of the territory was in meteorological drought, while on the last day of February, it was only 28%.

According to IPMA, there has been an increase in the intensity of meteorological drought in the south, namely the districts of Setúbal and Beja and some parts of the eastern Algarve, which are classified as being in severe drought.

Last Monday, the weekly bulletin of reservoirs, released by the Portuguese Environment Agency, showed that three reservoirs were at less than 20% capacity, all in the south:  Campilhas, at 13%, and Monte da Rocha at 10%, both in the Sado basin, and Bravura at 14% in the west Algarve (Barlavento basin).

Four other reservoirs are at below 40% capacity.

On Thursday, the Copernicus Climate Change Monitoring Service report, “State of the European Climate 2022”, was released, stating that temperatures in Europe are rising faster than any other continent – at twice the global average.

The Service maintains that Europe is seeing an upward trend in the number of summer days with “strong heat stress” or “very strong”, and in southern Europe, there is already “extreme heat stress”.

A week ago, the National Cereal Producers Association expressed concern about the drought situation , calling on the Government to take “due action” to mitigate the effects of the lack of rain.

Coincidentally, today’s meeting comes on the first day in April that southern parts of Portugal are expecting rain, in a month that traditionally was known for “águas mil” (April showers). There have been no April showers in the south at all yet.

Source material: LUSA