Ramona Magno, head of the Drought Observatory of the CNR Institute of BioEconomy, has just worked out with her colleagues the latest data relating to the rains in Italy in the first 22 days of June. Rainfall maps over our country are now increasingly a puzzle of orange and burgundy red tiles, indicators of severe drought and extreme drought respectively. Once the analysis is completed, the data will flow into the monthly bulletin of the Drought Observatory.
Doctor Magno, can you give us anticipation? What is the situation photographed by the latest data in your possession?
“Unfortunately, the rains from 1st to 22nd June confirm a drought situation in various areas of Piedmont and eastern Veneto. But the emergency is also spreading to eastern Liguria, a large part of Tuscany and almost all of Umbria. But it should be remembered that the monthly data (June 2022 compared with June 2022, ed . ) In these cases make little sense, we need to make analyzes relating to the medium and long term “.
Do you mean that a dry June would not necessarily be synonymous with drought if it rained and snowed in the previous six months?
“Exactly. But the problem is that if you evaluate the situation in the previous six or twelve months, some areas of Italy are now facing an extreme drought ”.
“Since the beginning of the year and since July of last year, the drought has been extreme in the regions of the Northwest, Piedmont and Lombardy, but also on part of the Tyrrhenian coast: Lazio and a part of Campania. In particular, over the twelve months, the Po Valley and the Po Delta suffer the most, along with Veneto and Friuli. In short, the rains in June confirm the gravity of the situation “.
Apart from precipitation, how much do temperatures affect?
“The drought of recent months is increasingly confirmed to be a hydrological drought, where the scarcity of winter snow and rainfall in the last six months is affecting the surface water reserves mainly in northern Italy. But certainly, the heat contributes to evaporating the water from the soils, from the surfaces of lakes and rivers and allowing the humidity to transpire from the plants. We know that last May, temperatures, beat the same record month of 2003, and June 2022 is currently in second place among the hottest ones. But the trend, unfortunately, is that between now and the end of the summer the temperatures will be quite above average “.
Are there any precipitation forecasts for the coming weeks as well?
“All models agree that it could be a drier summer than normal, although some thunderstorms are expected by the end of June. But I repeat, the problem will be above all the temperatures that will affect areas where rainfall has been very scarce in the last six to twelve months “.
How do you collect drought data?
“With ground weather stations, but also satellite measurements. All are elaborated by computer mathematical models. If we limited ourselves, as in the past, to the millimetres of rain measured in individual stations, we would not have a faithful picture of what is happening on the national territory, but only precisely where the measurement takes place. This is why satellites are now used which, by photographing the clouds and their ability to reflect light, help us to make reliable estimates of the rain that has fallen “.