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Drought of 1972

Northern and Eastern Europe

Drought Event Summary

The drought of 1972 was predominantly a winter and spring drought event. Beginning with low accumulated precipitation from the previous fall, the drought intensified due to low precipitation during the winter. This winter deficit was centered in Germany. As the event entered early spring, the drought centre pushed east, with the most severe drought conditions felt in March and April. By summer western Europe had recovered, while eastern Europe and Scandinavia continued to have dry conditions.

Drought Statistics

Approx. duration: 12/1971-7/1972

Date of SPI-6 min: 25/3/1972

Date of hydrological min: 20/3/1972

Affected regions: Northern and Eastern Europe

Climatological Drought

During February, a strong high pressure cell with its centre over Russia brought dry air masses from the southeast into central Europe causing low streamflows in eastern and central Europe, while an extreme low pressure centre resided just west of the British Isles. In March,the inverse situation with low pressure over eastern Europe and high pressure over central Europe and Britain shifted the region affected by streamflow deficiency farther west into France and the UK.

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

The hydrological drought peak occurred March, 1972 and was centered in Poland. This hydrological drought was caused by a relatively dry winter across most of central Europe. Low flows occured from Germany to Russia, and north into Scandinavia through the spring. Flows returned to normal in western Europe by summer, but remained low for most of eastern Europe throughout the early summer.

The Mediterranean region was largely unaffected.

Peak hydrological drought. with Hydrological drought is based on output nine large-scale hydrological models. Viewed spatially (left), areas with runoff below the 10th and 20th percentiles are shown in red and orange, respectively. The cluster centre (right) shows the centroid from each of the hydrological models during the drought peak.


Drought Impacts

According to Bradford (2000) drought in 1972 affected particularly the USSR with extreme low river levels. ┼lesund and other areas in Norway were affected by water use restrictions because of water shortage in 1972 (Aftenposten 1972-03-07). According to Cole & Marsh (2006) drought conditions from summer 1972 to late 1973 affected the most of England and Wales but became not critical in most areas; notable deficiencies were observed for spring-fed rivers and aquifers and streams in Chalk areas but summer flows were mostly not extreme. (No documentary evidence of impact could be found by Cole & Marsh).

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
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Deutschland 9/1971 12/1971 5.1 Impaired navigability of streams (reduction of load, increased need of interim storage of goods at ports) Due to the low flow conditions especially in late summer and fall load restrictions impaired navigation heavily. At the upper Rhine load restrictions were in force 300 days in 1971. Compared to the previous year (1970) the tons-x-kilometres performance was reduced by nearly 10 %. Baden-W├╝rttemberg; Rheinland-Pfalz; Nordrhein-Westfalen;