Rooftops peeking out of water has become a common seen every summer at Lindoso Reservoir in northwest of Spain. In particularly dry years, parts would appear of the old village of Aceredo, submerged three decades ago when a hydroelectric dam flooded the valley.
But never before had the skeleton of the village emerged in son entirety in the middle of the generally wet winter season.
With almost no rain for two months and not grand-thing anytime soonthe ruins of Aceredo cruising up a mix of emotions for the locals seeing the rusty carcass of a carune stone fountain with the water still gushes and the old road leading to what used to be the local bar.
“The totality place used to be all vineyards, orange trees. It was all green. It was beautiful,” said 72-year-old Jose Luis Penin, who used to stop at the bar with friends at the end of a day of fishing.
“Look at it now,” said Penín, who Lives in the same county, pointing to the cracked, yellow bed of The reservoir. “It’s so sad.”
While arid areas of the Iberian Peninsula has historically known periods of drought, experts say climate change has exacerbated the problem. This yearamong record levels of little or no rainfall at all, farmers in Portugal and Spain, who grow products for all of Europe, fear that their cultures for this season will be ruined.
In the last three months of 2021, Spain registered just 35% of the average rainfall it had experienced during the same period from 1981 to 2010. But there has been almost no rain since then.
According to national weather AEMET agency, in this centuryalone in 2005 was there a month of January with almost no rain. If the clouds don’t break loose in the next two weeks, emergency grants for farmers will be needed, authorities said.
But Rubén del Campo, a spokesperson for the weather service, said the below-average rainfall over the last six month should continue for many more weeks, with hope spring brings some much needed relief.
While only 10% of Spain has been officially declared under a “prolonged drought”, large areas, in particular in South, face extreme shortages that could impact irrigation of harvests.
the valley around the Guadalquivir river in Southwestern Spain has been declared under prolonged drought in November. Now is the focus of fierce environmental conflict over water rights near the park national of Donana, a World Heritage wetland site. the government of Andalusia region wants to grant water rights to farmers on land near the park, but critics say it move will put more danger an important wildlife refuge which is already drying up.
“The past two, three years have been dry, with the trend towards less and less rain,” said Andrés Gongora, a 46-year-old tomato farmer in south of Almeria.
Gongora, who expects the water he uses from a desalination plant to be rationed, it’s still better off than other farmers who specialize in wheat and cereals for livestock feed.
“Cereal Crops for this year were lost,” Gongora said.
Other places in the center and north-east of Spain are also feel the burn.
the leading association of farmers and breeders in Spain, COAG, warns that half of Spanish farms are threatened by drought this year. This says if it’s not raining hard in the coming month, rainfed crops, including cereals, olives, nuts and vines, could lose 60 to 80% of their manufacture.
But the association is also worried about the cultures that depend on on irrigation, with reservoirs below 40% of capacity in more of South.
spain left-wing government plans dedicate over 570 millions euros (647 millions dollars) of the European Union pandemic recovery funds to make its irrigation systems more efficient, including the integration of renewable energy systems.
Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas said this week that government will take emergency measures if it does not rain in two weeks. These would probably be limited to economic benefits to compensate for the loss of crops and income for Farmers.
Neighboring Portugal has also seen little rain since last October. At the end of January, 45% of the country was experiencing “severe” or “extreme” drought conditions, depending on the national weather IPMA agency.
Rainfall from October 1 to January was less than half the annual average for this four-month period, alarming farmers who are short of grass for their cattle.
Exceptionally, even the north of Portugal is dry and forest fires have broken out out there this winter. In the south, crickets are already sing at night and mosquitoes appeared – traditional panels of summer.
IPMA expects no relief before end of the month.
Portugal saw an increase in frequency of droughts over the past 20-30 years, according to IPMA climatologist Vanda Pires, with decrease in precipitation and higher temperatures.
“This is part of of the context of climate change,” Pires told The Associated Press (AP).
And the outlook is bleak: scientists believe that Portugal will experience a drop in average annual precipitation of 20% to 40% at the end of the century.