How dry has it been this year in your region and how much insurance would help to protect against losses? Our GrECo Soil Moisture Deficit Monitor can provide the answer about 10 850 locations in Central and Eastern Europe!

2022 breaks all records in some parts of Europe, being one of the driest and hottest years! The dynamics of soil moisture in dry 2022 compared to 2021 can be clearly seen in the video below.

The browner the area in the chart above remains for a significant time (more than 30 days), the more hostile the drought is.

Drought negative outcomes

Such a big drought leads to many negative consequences in many industries, especially in agriculture, energy, logistics, and forestry. For example:

  • Expected decrease of corn yield in Hungary (30% more)
  • Massive livestock death in Italy;
  • Big shortage of water in the UK, France, Spain and Portugal;
  • Hydropower generation, which relies on water to produce electricity, has fallen by 44% in Spain, and 20% overall; 
  • Some nuclear plants in France have had to reduce output as the rivers have been too low and warm to cool the plants;
  • River Rhine’s water level fell so much that shipping was affected;
  • Low water levels in the Danube River exposed the wrecks of dozens of German warships, sunk in late 1944 to block passage to the Soviets;
  • In 2022 as of today, there is 735 000 ha of burnt forest in EU countries or currently under fire, which is already 2.3 times more comparing the annual average for 2006-2021! How much Europe is burning at the moment you can see in the charts below.
Fire danger forecast
Percentage of burned areas

Why is drought on the rise?

This is believed to be the result of a global warming trend that is due to intense human activity, especially in the last 50 years. We witness the increase in greenhouse gas in the atmosphere (more than 30% compared to the 1950s) and deforestation for agriculture (40% of forests were lost). It led to the shift in the average temperature by 1°C compared to the pre-industrial era, and thus resulted in large changes in the weather produced by ocean streams. This is evidenced by more extreme temperatures, heat waves, higher wind speeds, more hail, and uneven distribution throughout the season leading to no rain when plants need it or, vice versa, heavy destructive rains and floods.

How to quantify the severity of a drought event?

To quantify and visualize it, we use soil moisture data set from ‘ERA5 hourly data at single levels from 1959 to present’, provided by the European Space Agency. The data is stored in 25 x 25 km grids as in the picture below.

Soil moisture data set

We have developed a monitor tool that clients can use to get calculations from us by sending individual requests. Once we identify your location in CEE/SEE region from the drop-down list, a simple Excel tool will identify the ERA5 grid and extract data for further analysis and calculations.

Examples from several places are as follow.

Debrecen data
Extent of soil moisture deficit
Bratislava data
Extent of soil moisture deficit

As we see from the charts above, in areas around Debrecen and Bratislava, the 2022 year was the worst compared to the last 30 years, at least. For example, in Debrecen, it was 45.8% dryer than the average year in this region. The farmers would get insurance compensation in the amount of 25% of crop value if they signed a parametric drought insurance policy.

Why is the satellite soil moisture index the best parameter to insure drought?

  • Direct factor, impacting crop development/quantity for food processing
  • Combination of rain, temperature, wind, crop density, soil
  • Parameter independent of the parties to the insurance contract
  • Its value can be double-checked by the farmer/food processor
  • No field inspections are required
  • No paperwork to indemnify the loss
  • Fast insurance pay-out

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Maksym Shylov

Group Practice Leader
Food & Agriculture

T +48 22 39 33 211