Europe is on the verge of a water catastrophe as groundwater reserves dry up, scientists have warned. During the summer months of 2018 and 2019 there was a striking water shortage in Central Europe. Since then, there has been no significant rise in ground water levels, with levels remaining constantly low. The severe drought is damaging natural habitats, affecting agriculture and creating major energy shortages, a new study reveals. The effects of this prolonged drought were evident in Europe during the summer of 2022.
Dry riverbeds and the slow disappearance of stagnant waters severely impacted both nature and people. Numerous aquatic species lost their habitats, while dry soil caused many problems for agriculture. The energy shortage in Europe also worsened as a result. Without sufficient amounts of cooling water, nuclear power plants in France struggled to generate enough electricity. Hydroelectric power plants also struggled to fulfil their function due to the lack of water. To gather their data, the team used satellite gravimetry to observe the world’s groundwater resources and document their changes in recent years. They used twin satellites that orbit the Earth in a polar orbit at an altitude of just under 490 kilometres.
They provide readings of the total mass, from which the mass changes in the rivers and lakes are then subtracted, the soil moisture, snow and ice are also subtracted and finally only the groundwater remains. The distance between the satellites of around 200 kilometres was crucial to the project.

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