River Po at summer levels in winter

Climate: Po is as dry as in the summer

By Region Environment News North-east Italy North-west Italy

Italy’s longest river, the Po, is as dry as it usually is in summer, farm group Coldiretti said Monday. It said “anomalies” could also be seen in Italy’s great lakes which have capacity levels ranging from 18% in lake Como to 22% in Lake Maggiore.

Coldiretti has been monitoring the water levels in Italy. The hydrometric level of the Po river at Ponte della Becca has dropped by 3 meters. This is lower than in August and is representative of the situation of suffering in all the main water courses in the north. The river Po is as dry as in summer, with anomalies also seen in the large lakes. Como is at 18% whilst Maggiore is at 22%.

Absence of significant winter rainfall

These are the effects, underlines Coldiretti, of the absence of significant winter rainfall in the north. In many areas, it has not rained for two months. The warning of possible fire has even been triggered, favoured by strong winds, from Lombardy to Piedmont. The scarce water potential stored in the form of snow in the Alpine and Apennine arches is also worrying.  

This puts crops at risk, with the vegetative awakening favoured by a mild winter. In fact, the almond trees are already flowering in Sicily.  

Drought has become the most significant disaster for Italian agriculture with an average estimated damage of one billion euros per year.  Climate change has above all modified both the seasonal and geographical distribution of rainfall, even if Italy remains a rainy country, Coldiretti says. Around 300 billion cubic metres of water falls annually. However, only 11% is withheld.

Related article: 45th parallel at Taglio di Po

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