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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; Das Niedrigwasser des Rheins im Herbst 1971. Informationsplattform Undine Datengrundlagen zur Einordnung und Bewertung hydrologischer Extreme. Bundesanstalt f├╝r Gew├Ąsserkunde, Koblenz. Reference Link (date of access: 2014-03-03):
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Deutschland 10/1971 12/1971 8.2 (Temporary) water quality deterioration/problems of surface waters( natural & manmade), e.g. significant change of physio-chemical indicators, increased concentrations of pollutants, decreased oxygen saturation levels, eutrophication, algal bloom) Considerable amounts of (untreated or inadequately treated) sewage disposals in combination with the extreme low flow situation led to significant water quality deterioration (high loads of organic solutes, critically low oxygen concentrations and increased salinity levels ) particularly in the last quarter of 1971 (Rhine downstream from Karlsruhe). Thus, 1971 is recorded among the worst years in terms of water quality at the Rhine. Eventually the low flow year of 1971 raised awareness of the Rhine's water quality issue. Rheinland-Pfalz; Nordrhein-Westfalen; Das Niedrigwasser des Rheins im Herbst 1971. Informationsplattform Undine Datengrundlagen zur Einordnung und Bewertung hydrologischer Extreme. Bundesanstalt f├╝r Gew├Ąsserkunde, Koblenz. Reference Link (date of access: 2014-03-03):
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe 1971 1971 1.2 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation, losses > 30% (EU compensation treshold) Yields reduced by 50 % according to the Agro meteorological bulletin Slovenija; Slovenija; AUA - Agricultural University of Athens (2011): Archive of local/regional/national drought periods and impacts based on historical records. Deliverable WP4/4.1, DMCSEE (Drought Managmente Centre for South East Europe) Project.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe 1971 1971 1.3 Reduced productivity of permanent crop cultivation Yields reduced by 50 % according to the Agro meteorological bulletin Slovenija; Slovenija; AUA - Agricultural University of Athens (2011): Archive of local/regional/national drought periods and impacts based on historical records. Deliverable WP4/4.1, DMCSEE (Drought Managmente Centre for South East Europe) Project.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Polska 1971 1971 2.1 Reduced tree growth and vitality The main aim of the study by Koprowski & Zielski (2008) was to analyse climate-growth relationships of Norway spruce from the boreal-Baltic range in the Białowieża National Park. Spruce growth is positively correlated with the rainfall from May to July. The most typical negative pointer years associated with low precipitation totals during the growing period (from May to July) are 1971, 1963/1964, 1979 and 1992. Those years are also pointer years for the Lithuanian spruce as was shown in another study. Wschodni; Podlaskie; Bialostocko-suwalski; Koprowski, M., Zielski, A., 2008. Extremely narrow and wide tree rings in the Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) of the Białowieża National Park. Ecological Questions, 9(1): 73-78.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe 1971 1971 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. Yields reduced by 50 % according to the Agro meteorological bulletin Slovenija; Slovenija; AUA - Agricultural University of Athens (2011): Archive of local/regional/national drought periods and impacts based on historical records. Deliverable WP4/4.1, DMCSEE (Drought Managmente Centre for South East Europe) Project.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Polska 1971 1.2 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation, losses > 30% (EU compensation treshold) As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Ceská Republika 1971 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Ceská Republika 1971 1.2 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation, losses > 30% (EU compensation treshold) As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Slovenská Republika 1971 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Slovenská Republika 1971 1.2 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation, losses > 30% (EU compensation treshold) As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Lietuva 1971 1971 2.1 Reduced tree growth and vitality Vitas & Erlickyt├ź (2007) conducted a dendroclimatological research study on the radial growth of Scots pine in the Auk┼ítaitija National Park in north-eastern Lithuania. Overall they found that droughts in spring and early summer (May-June) seem to have larger negative impact on the radial growth of pines, as compared to drought in August late summer, droughts of three-month duration seem to be more stressful than short one-month droughts. The effect of drought however depends on climate conditions before and after the drought (no reduction in growth for some drought years). The results of Vitas & Erlickyt├ź did not reveal statistically significant differences between the number of pines with negative event years on organic peat soil sites compared to mineral soil sites. Individual drought years with a remarkably high percentage of pines showing distinct decrease of radial growth under both site conditions, organic and mineral soils, were: 1919, 1920, 1959, 1971, 1989 and 1993. Lietuva; Lietuva; Utenos apskritis; Vilniaus apskritis; Vitas, A., Erlickyt─Ś, R., 2007. Influence of droughts to the radial growth of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) at different site conditions. Baltic Forestry, 13(1): 10-16.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Deutschland 1971 4.4 other Due to extreme low flow conditions in the fall of 1971 the existing and planned thermal power plants at the River Rhine faced criticism because of their emission of heat. Das Niedrigwasser des Rheins im Herbst 1971. Informationsplattform Undine Datengrundlagen zur Einordnung und Bewertung hydrologischer Extreme. Bundesanstalt f├╝r Gew├Ąsserkunde, Koblenz. Reference Link (date of access: 2014-03-03):
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe ├ľsterreich 1971 1971 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. According to the FAO report drought in 1971 caused a reduction in sugar beet yields in Austria (also influenced by a fall in area) and Greece. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Ellada 1971 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. According to the FAO report drought in 1971 caused a reduction in sugar beet yields in Austria (also influenced by a fall in area) and Greece. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Deutschland 1971 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. Th├╝ringen; Sachsen-Anhalt; Sachsen; Berlin; Brandenburg; Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Deutschland 1971 1.2 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation, losses > 30% (EU compensation treshold) As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. Th├╝ringen; Sachsen-Anhalt; Sachsen; Berlin; Brandenburg; Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Polska 1971 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. As expected the performance of eastern European agriculture generally improved considerably in 1971, although weather conditions, favourable in the spring and early summer, tended to worsen in the latter part of the year and hence affected certain crops and also the rate of growth in some countries. The improvements resulting from large grain crops were slightly offset by shortfalls in other crops as a result of prolonged drought in the late summer and autumn. Declines in fodder crops and potatoes were reported in Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Poland. FAO 1972: State of Food and Agriculture 1972. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Norge 1/1972 7.3 Bans on domestic and public water use (e.g. car washing, watering the lawn/garden, irrigation of sport fields, filling of swimming pools ) Water shortage due to nearly no precipitation for months. Water use restrictions for ├ůlesund, but also affecting other areas. Norge; Vestlandet; M├Şre og Romsdal; Aftenposten 1972-03-07, Reference Link
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Norge 1/1972 7.1 Local water supply shortage / problems (drying up of springs/wells, reservoirs, streams) Water shortage due to nearly no precipitation for months. Water use restrictions for ├ůlesund, but also affecting other areas. Norge; Vestlandet; M├Şre og Romsdal; Aftenposten 1972-03-07, Reference Link
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Norge 5/1972 7.1 Local water supply shortage / problems (drying up of springs/wells, reservoirs, streams) Drying up of reservoirs Norge; S├Şr-├śstlandet; Aftenposten
1972/73 Cyprus Kypros / Kibris 1972 1.2 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation, losses > 30% (EU compensation treshold) For the third time in five years the agriculture of Cyprus is stricken by a drought which worsened between 1972 and 1973. Rains expected in December, January and February never came what aggravated the effects of the 1972 drought which had reduced the wheat crop by about 15 percent and barley by 28 percent. There were similar and larger losses in dryland tree and vine crops and grazing for livestock Kypros / Kibris; Kypros / Kibris; Kypros / Kibris; FAO 1973: State of Food and Agriculture 1973. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.
1971/72 Central/Eastern Europe Deutschland 1972 7.1 Local water supply shortage / problems (drying up of springs/wells, reservoirs, streams) In 1972, the year, when the Olympique Games took place in Munich, more ground water had to be pumped than usually legally accepted (even though ground water levels below legal threshold for water use) in order to prevent water supply shortages and rationing. Low levels were caused by a prolonged dry period. The same was nearly again necessary in 1974 after a long winter period. Bayern; Oberbayern; M├╝nchen, Kreisfreie Stadt; Heyn E. 1981. Wasser ein Problem unserer Zeit. Studienb├╝cher Geographie. Diesterweg: Frankfurt a.M.; Berlin; M├╝nchen. Sauerl├Ąnder: Aarau, Frankfurt a. M., Salzburg.
1972/73 Cyprus Kypros / Kibris 1972 1.1 Reduced productivity of annual crop cultivation: crop losses, damage to crop quality or crop failure due to dieback, premature ripening, drought-induced pest infestations or diseases etc. For the third time in five years the agriculture of Cyprus is stricken by a drought which worsened between 1972 and 1973. Rains expected in December, January and February never came what aggravated the effects of the 1972 drought which had reduced the wheat crop by about 15 percent and barley by 28 percent. There were similar and larger losses in dryland tree and vine crops and grazing for livestock Kypros / Kibris; Kypros / Kibris; Kypros / Kibris; FAO 1973: State of Food and Agriculture 1973. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS, Rome.

References

  1. Aftenposten 1972-03-07, http://eavis.aftenposten.no/aftenposten/46449/11/
  2. Bradford, R. B. (2000), Drought Events in Europe, in Drought and Drought Mitigation in Europe, edited by J. Vogt and F. Somma, pp. 7-20, Kluwer Academic Publisher, Dordrecht.
  3. Cole GA, Marsh T 2006: The impact of climate change on severe droughts Major droughts in England and Wales from 1800 and evidence of impact. Science Report: SC040068/SR1. Environmental Agency, Bristol.

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