Record drought in Germany spotted by satellites

In the last month, Germany has received only about half of its normal annual rainfall. In many parts of the country the water level in rivers has reached its lowest level in a century and farmers are grappling with poor harvests as a result of higher than normal temperatures combined with a lack of rain.

Due to the severity of this summer’s heatwave, it is expected that Germany’s 2018 grain harvests will fall about 20 percent short. Thus, German farmers are seeking a 1 billion euro ($1.17 billion) special aid package to help them overcome the impact of the drought. On Wednesday, German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said that she will await the agriculture ministry’s own harvest estimates to be published in late August before making a decision on widespread aid to farmers. “Then we will have a real overview of the situation in Germany,” she said.

But is it possible to get such an overview even earlier by analysing latest satellite imagery?

An analysis of high-resolution Sentinel-2 and medium-resolution METOP/ASCAT based soil moisture imagery clearly demonstrates the current and severe drought conditions in Germany. The data is provided free of charge by the European Copernicus program, Europe’s eye on Earth. GeoVille is using this data to evaluate the severity of the drought based on the soil moisture conditions measured by the satellites, which provide insight into the moisture content of the soil up to 1m depth. For every 10-day time step the long-term average as well as the standard derivation has been calculated and put into relation to the current conditions. Especially the northern and eastern parts of Germany greatly suffer from the continued dryness.

Record drought in Germany spotted by satellites

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