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Record-breaking heatwave, drought plague Spain, threatening ecosystems and agriculture

  • Spain experienced its hottest spring on record and the second driest ever, according to the country’s meteorological agency.
  • The scorching temperatures observed this year follow the trend of exceptionally high temperatures in 2022, which marked Spain’s hottest year on record.
  • The Spanish government has allocated $2.4 billion for drought response measures, including support for urban water reuse and aid for farmers facing challenges.

Spain registered its hottest spring on record this year, and its second driest ever, the state meteorological agency said Wednesday.

Rubén Del Campo, spokesman for the Aemet weather agency, said the latest data showed a continuation of the extremely high temperatures the country suffered in 2022, which was the hottest year ever recorded in Spain.

The spring heat was accompanied by a scarcity of rain that will exacerbate Spain’s long-term drought, despite some rainfall over the last month. Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry reported Tuesday that the country’s reservoirs are at 47.4% of their capacity, consolidating a downward trend.

Del Campo noted knock-on effects for the Mediterranean country’s ecosystem. “Surface water temperatures recorded in 2022 were the highest since at least 1940,” he told a press conference, warning that the phenomenon endangered marine life and its ability to reproduce.

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Spain Weather

A woman holds an umbrella to shelter from the sun during a hot sunny day in Madrid, Spain, on July 18, 2022.

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The situation inland was also made much more precarious. “These high temperatures have repercussions on both human health and ecosystems in terms of increased likelihood of forest fires,” the spokesman added.

Del Campo also issued predictions for the summer ahead, which he said would likely be “extremely hot,” though with a probability of some rainstorms. The Aemet spokesman said it was not clear that the El Niño weather phenomenon would contribute to the expected high temperatures in Spain. El Niño is a cyclical warming of the world’s oceans and weather, which is forecast to return later this year.

The Spanish government announced $2.4 billion worth of drought response measures last month, including funding for urban water reuse and further aid for struggling farmers.

Spain is Europe’s leading producer and exporter of fresh fruit and vegetables. The country requested emergency funds from the European Union in April given the dire prognosis for this year’s crops.

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