Extreme droughts on the rise

Extreme droughts are increasing in frequency in the Iberian Peninsula and are believed to be mainly caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, according to a study led by a Portuguese scientist.

The scientist, Ricardo Trigo, was in charge of a Spanish-Portuguese research team, which studied the drought that marked the 2011-2012 winter.

The results from their study show that, between September 2011 and August 2012, precipitation levels in the Iberian Peninsula (comprised of Portugal, Spain, Andorra and part of France), dropped around 50% below the average value registered between 1950 and 2000. It was also revealed that the four months between December and May, which are normally the ones that register the highest levels of rainfall, were exceptionally dry.

Trigo admitted, however, that the 2004-2005 drought in the peninsula was more serious, and added that it was most likely the worst of the last 100 years.

Similarly, the drought of 2011-2012 affected the whole of the peninsula, unlike more common droughts, which affect only 20 to 30% of the territory.

Trigo stated that according to part of their analysis the climate changes were partly caused by human actions.