A ‘Delighting’ Drought, For Some
The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (EC) has confirmed that Europe is experiencing most severe drought of the past 500 years, as nearly 47% of the European Union (EU) is under drought warning, with 17% on red alert. The entire continent has experienced a fall in the water levels in lakes and rivers. Although the Europeans are facing some unwanted hazards because of the drought, the fall in water levels has exposed long-submerged treasures, including ancient stones, and some World War Two-era ships.
As expected, the development has delighted archaeologists who discovered a prehistoric stone circle, called the Spanish Stonehenge, in Spain in August (2022). Usually, the water in the dam tends to cover such stones that are officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal. According to the Spanish archaeologists, one can find the stone circle in one corner of the Valdecanas reservoir in Caceres, the central province of Spain, where the water level has dropped to 28% of the dam’s full capacity.
It may be noted that German Archaeologist Hugo Obermaier had discovered this stone circle in 1926. However, it disappeared in 1963 when the area was flooded during a rural development project under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. In the last five decades, the stone circle has become fully visible only four times. In the past, droughts had made the so-called hunger stones visible along the River Rhine. In recent times, a number of stone circles have become visible along the banks of the largest river in Germany. As some of these Spanish Stonehenges bear dates and people’s initials, one can realise the hardships people faced during droughts in the past.
Similar discoveries have taken place in Serbia, as the Danube, one of Europe’s mighty rivers, has fallen to one of its lowest levels in almost a century, exposing the hulks of more than 20 German warships sunk during World War Two near Prahovo. The concerned authorities in Belgrade have issued a statement, mentioning that these vessels were scuttled along the Danube by Nazi Germany’s Black Sea fleet in 1944 while retreating from advancing Soviet Forces.
Italy, too, declared a State of Emergency in areas around the River Po in late July after archaeologists discovered a previously submerged 450kg World War Two bomb in the low-running waters of the longest river of the country. The Government of Italy also evacuated around 3,000 people living near the northern village of Borgo Virgilio (near Mantua). Later in August, military experts defused the bomb and also carried out a controlled explosion of a device manufactured in the US.
In Asia, China is facing its longest and most severe drought ever recorded. Reports suggest that the drought is affecting hydropower generation, with rivers drying up. The intensity, impact, scale and duration of the ongoing heatwave have prompted the concerned authorities in Beijing to issue a nationwide drought alert on August 19 (2022). Meteorologists have predicted that the long-running heatwave in the south-western region of the country would continue till September.
While nearly 66 rivers across 34 counties in south-western China have dried up because of the scorching heat, rainfall in southern China is down 60% this year compared to seasonal norms.
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