Drought of 1995-1996

Northern Europe

Drought Event Summary

The drought of 1996-1997 was characterized by meteorological shortages in Great Britain, followed by an ever expanding drought in southern Scandinavia and Denmark/northern Germany. This drought event began with a dry winter, beginning in 1995 and continuing into 1996. This continued into the spring of 1996, reducing available water for northern Europe in the early spring.

Hydrological drought lagged behind meteorological drought during the 1995-1997 event because winter precipitation deficits in northern latitudes are related to snowfall, which has a more delayed effect than rainfall deficits.

Drought Statistics

Approx. duration: 4/1995-7/1996

Date of SPI-6 min: 31/3/1996

Date of hydrological min: 3/4/1996

Affected regions: Northern Europe

Climatological Drought

Fall of 1975 showed the remnants of precipitation deficit in Great Britain and Spain. With time, the deficit in Great Britain intensified and led to an even stronger winter deficit in Scandinavia and northern Germany.

This precipitation deficit grew in late spring 1996, reaching its peak in late March and April. Conditions gradually returned to normal by mid-summer.

Progression of climatological (SPI-6) drought. Climatological drought is defined by the SPI-6, which sums precipitation over the previous 6 months and transforms this value to the standard normal distribution. Negative SPI values (shown in red) represent dry conditions, measured in standard deviations from typical conditions. Percent area in drought is calculated by summing all cells less than the 20th percentile (SPI < -0.84).

Hydrological Drought



Peak hydrological drought. with Hydrological drought is based on output nine large-scale hydrological models. Viewed spatially (above), areas with runoff below the 10th and 20th percentiles are shown in red and orange, respectively.

Drought Impacts

In 1995 in particular the UK faced an extremely hot and dry summer with rapidly declining runoff rates which had severe effects on areas dependent on supply from surface water resources as well as many significant environmental impacts (Parry et al., 2010; Cole & Marsh, 2006; Marsh & Turton, 1996) as well as considerable costs (EC, 2007). In the UK this intense "summer" drought phase is considered a part of the longer 1995-1997 drought (EA, 2009). According to Parry this heatwave-dominated drought over the UK had a relatively localized impact. However, in August 1995 drought impacts, regarding agricultural damage and problems due to extremely dry sport fields, were also reported by Dutch newspapers. In February of 1996 the water supply reservoir groups in Yorkshire were still at critical levels and customers faced problems like low pressure and poor-quality of water, in addition announced an annual price rsie of 5.6 % (Bakker, 1998).

Later in 1996 and 1997 drought impacts were reported concerning hydropower production, navigation, decreased grassland yields for livestock farmers and forest and heath fires for Netherlands, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries. Historically low groundwater levels were recorded across the Netherlands threatening 200 plant species according to a newspaper article in April. Analysis of tree ring width samples of oak from Central Germany identified the summer (growing season) of 1996 (with 1934 and 1959) among the driest in the period AD 996-2005 (Büntgen et al., 2010). The effect of 1996 and other dry seasons in the 1990s is also visible in forest monitoring data for spruce forests in Norway (Solberg, 2004).

Location of drought impact reports. Darker colors refer to more reported impacts in the EDII. Scroll over each country to see more detail.

Impact Detail Table

Drought Event Country Start Date End Date Impact Impact Category Impact Description NUTS 1 NUTS 2 NUTS 3 Reference
1992-94 Eastern Europe Balgarija 2/1995 15.2 Regional/local user conflicts Troops were sent in the town Separeva banya (Rila mountain) to mitigate the protest of local people against a project for water relocation towards Sofia South-Western and South-Central Bulgaria; Yugozapaden; Kyustendil Province;