2022 was the year of drought


In Italy, rivers and lakes dried up over the summer. Large sections of the country’s longest river, the River Po, ran completely dry, forcing officials in July to declare a state of emergency in five northern regions. 

Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, also shrank to near-historic lows over the summer. Water from the lake was diverted to local rivers to help farmers across the parched north of the country, leaving Lake Garda 12.6 inches above the water table, which approached the lowest levels recorded in 2003 and 2007.

Waterways elsewhere in Europe were similarly impacted by drought and extreme heat. In August, Serbia’s Danube River shrank to one of its lowest levels in almost a century. The Loire River in France also fell to historically low levels over the summer amid record drought in the country.

North America

Parts of North America, such as the western United States, remained in the grips of severe drought this year. Dry conditions fueled dangerous wildfires in Arizona, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington state. 

A study published in February in the journal Nature Climate Change found that ongoing “megadrought” conditions in the southwestern U.S., which have persisted for the past 22 years, are the worst since at least 800 A.D. 


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