Spain and Portugal are suffering their driest climate for at least 1,200 years, according to research, with severe implications for both food production and tourism.
Most rain on the Iberian peninsula falls in winter as wet, low-pressure systems blow in from the Atlantic. But a high-pressure system off the coast, called the Azores high, can block the wet weather fronts.
The researchers found that winters featuring “extremely large” Azores highs have increased dramatically from one winter in 10 before 1850 to one in four since 1980. These extremes also push the wet weather northwards, making downpours in the northern UK and Scandinavia more likely.
The scientists said the more frequent large Azores highs could only have been caused by the climate crisis, caused by humanity’s carbon emissions.
“The number of extremely large Azores highs in the last 100 years is really unprecedented when you look at the previous 1,000 years,” said Dr Caroline Ummenhofer, at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US, and part of the research team.
“That has big implications because an extremely large Azores high means relatively dry conditions for the Iberian peninsula and the Mediterranean,” she said. “We could also conclusively link this increase to anthropogenic emissions.”
Read the entire article at the Guardian