Drought has been crippling many regions of the world in Northern Hemisphere summer, 2022. While the shrinking Lake Mead and Lake Powell in the American West have gotten the lion’s share of press coverage here in the U.S., the issue is a global one. The BBC reported on August 24 that Europe’s drought is the worst in 500 years, and several famous European rivers have run dry. China’s largest freshwater lake and longest river are also running dry. The Guardian said on August 19 that drought in the Horn of Africa has the potential to push more than 22 million people into starvation.
Drought in Europe
The Global Drought Observatory released a report on August 22, 2022, that said two-thirds of Europe are under a drought warning. The lack of rainfall, plus persistent European heat waves, are expanding and worsening dry regions. The heat and drought has stressed summer crops, especially grain maize, soybeans and sunflowers. Forecasts continue to call for warmer and drier conditions in Europe into November.
The most visually dramatic effect of the drought in Europe is the dwindling levels in famous European rivers, as illustrated below:
— Rob Simmon (@rsimmon) August 19, 2022
Drying rivers and lakes reveal secrets in Spain
The shrinking lakes and rivers are revealing sights long hidden in some parts of Europe. In Spain, the drought exposed a prehistoric stone circle, dubbed the Spanish Stonehenge, in a reservoir whose water level has dropped to 28% of capacity. Archaeologists believe that the circle of dozens of megalithic stones, officially called the Dolmen of Guadalperal, dates back to 5000 BCE. It currently sits fully exposed in one corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Cáceres.
Nazi ships revealed in Serbia
In Serbia, the receding waters of the Danube River near the town of Prahovo have uncovered dozens of World War II-era German warships, according to an August 19, 2022, Reuters report. Many of the ships still contain ammunition and explosive devices.
The vessels were among hundreds scuttled along the Danube by Nazi Germany's Black Sea fleet in 1944 as they retreated from advancing Soviet forces, and still hamper river traffic during low water levels 2/5 pic.twitter.com/PBsmgA53VZ
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 19, 2022
Czech’s hunger stone
In a small northern Czech town, close to the German border, lowering river water has revealed a rock inscribed with an eerie message. On August 19, 2022, The Guardian said:
As Europe’s rivers run dry in a devastating drought that scientists say could prove the worst in 500 years, their receding waters are revealing long-hidden artefacts, from Roman camps to ghost villages and second world war shipwrecks.
The so-called ‘hunger stone’ at Decín is one of dozens in central European rivers engraved to mark their levels during historic droughts, and warn future generations of the famine and hardship likely to follow each time they became visible.
How bad is the drought in Europe? Here's a famous “Hunger Stone” on the Elbe river in Germany. The oldest readable carving, from 1616, says: “Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine” – “If you see me, weep.” pic.twitter.com/kT5x9ESOOW
— ?? Ray Nayler ?? (he/him) (@raynayler) August 22, 2022
Shrinking reservoirs in the U.S. Southwest
On August 16, 2022, the Bureau of Reclamation said that 23 years of drought and low amounts of runoff have resulted in historically low water levels at the two largest reservoirs in the U.S., Lake Mead and Lake Powell on the U.S. Colorado river.
About 40 million people, across seven states and Mexico, rely on the Colorado River system for drinking water and to support livelihoods including farming and recreation.
Downstream from Lake Powell, water storage at Lake Mead on August 22 stood at 28 percent of capacity, and the entire Colorado river system held just 34 percent. At the same time, roughly 86 percent of the land area across nine western states was affected by some level of drought, according to the August 16 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Drying Lake Mead reveals bodies and boats
Water levels in Lake Mead – the largest reservoir in the U.S. – are at their lowest since the completion of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, which stopped the flow of the Colorado River and created this lake in the desert. The retreating lake is revealing things hidden underwater for decades. People are finding trash, boats (including a World War II-era craft) and human bodies. In fact, Newsweek reported that officials said there are probably 100s of bodies waiting to be found in Lake Mead.
— Dave Malkoff (@malkoff) August 16, 2022
Dinosaur tracks in Texas
Dry conditions have lowered water levels at Texas’s Dinosaur Valley State Park, revealing 113 million-year-old dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy River riverbed.
The tracks, preserved in limestone, are usually covered by water and sediment. However, months of hot, dry conditions have turned rivers and creeks to puddles in places, exposing the prints. Park Superintendent Jeff Davis told The Hill:
You can actually see their individual toes, their individual claw marks. You can even see where they slipped as they were running.
Woah! ?? A spokesperson for Dinosaur Valley State Park said the tracks belong to the Acrocanthosaurus, which would stand, as an adult, about 15 feet tall and weigh close to seven tons.
READ MORE: https://t.co/wXOf74RWBq pic.twitter.com/ScrXvyFgYW
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) August 23, 2022
Drought in China
China has been breaking heat records all summer. And the extreme temperatures and low rainfall have created a prolonged drought in China. The Yangtze River – longest river in China and third longest in the world – is withering away. The river basin is home to 450 million people and 1/3 of China’s crops, and the people there are dealing with depleted wells and brush fires.
China’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang, is also drying up. It’s now less than 25% of its normal surface area. A view from an airplane shows the water in the lake to have dwindled down into a shape that some of the locals are calling The Tree of Death.
#LoMásVisto ••• El calor intenso redujo los niveles de agua del lago #Poyang, en #China, provocando que simulara ramas de árboles. Estas imágenes se hicieron virales por su perfección en las formas. pic.twitter.com/nhuZ1RMvb3
— Portavoz (@PortavozEdoMex) August 24, 2022
— ??? (@PaddyFok) August 25, 2022
Europe and the US not the only Drought stricken regions. The Yangtze River in China has shrunken to half its normal width. They’ve had to close canals supplied by this water. pic.twitter.com/fOE66uGMik
— Peter Dynes (@PGDynes) August 19, 2022
Shocking pictures from China: World’s third-largest river dries up in drought ?pic.twitter.com/1rXKa01quq
— Daniel Moser (@_dmoser) August 23, 2022
Drought in the Horn of Africa
Four years of failed rains in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia have left the Horn of Africa facing catastrophe, The Guardian said. The drought puts 22 million people at risk of starvation by September, according to an August 19, 2022, report from the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP). The region is seeing the worst drought conditions in 40 years, with no end in sight.
For all the talk about drought in the US, Europe and China – let’s not forget the drought in East Africa threatens starvation for up to 20 million people. That is the most urgent emergency needing addressed due to disappearing fresh water sources. pic.twitter.com/T1ZnfGKlI0
— Peter Dynes (@PGDynes) August 22, 2022
Drought in the Horn of Africa is the driest conditions & hottest temperatures since satellite record-keeping began.
Impacting 13 million people currently, women & children walk about 14 km looking for water & animals are dying in hundreds of thousands. This is a climate crisis! pic.twitter.com/DYd44M1X2S
— MulindwaMoses (@mulindwa_guy) August 21, 2022
Horn of Africa: @wfp scales up assistance as unprecedented drought raises levels of hunger and the threat of famine.
Up to 22 million people are now struggling to find enough food to eat across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. https://t.co/sQnCua24EV
— United Nations (@UN) August 22, 2022
Bottom line: Drought is crippling many regions of the world in 2022, from the US and Europe to China and the Horn of Africa. As waters recede, ancient artifacts are appearing.