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Europe’s shrinking waterways reveal treasures and experts are worried


LONDON – Rusty metal blocks from an old pickup truck decompose in the sun. Its windows, tires, and interior had long since broken, and so would any workable part. It sits on a collection of hollow houses and derelict buildings, all of which are the ruins of Aceredo, an old village in northwestern Spain that was submerged three decades ago when a hydroelectric dam did flooded the valley.

Now, because of the persistent drought, adventurers can visit this ghostly village on foot.

Across Europe, once submerged villages, ships and bridges – some dating back thousands of years – have resurfaced this year as rivers and reservoirs dry up. A steady stream of gravitational images circulated while much of the continent faced a series of extremely hot waves and a cruel droughttwo phenomena that scientists think are more likely and more severe due to human-caused climate change.

The dual effects of drought and extreme heat are already apparent.

In Spain, the Dolmen of Guadalperal, a 4 to 5 millennium megalithic monument commonly known as Stonehenge of Spain, which arose from a drought-stricken dam west of Madrid. In Italy, where residents facing its worst drought in 70 years, the ruins of an ancient Roman Neronian bridge are visible over the Tiber River. One of Germany’s largest reservoirs, the Edersee, has shrunk so much that the base of Berich, a village that was flooded in 1914, is visible. In Prahovo, Serbia, the Danube River has dropped to such a low water level. more than a dozen people sunk Nazi World War II ships are now revealed. And in the North of England, falling water levels at Baitings Reservoir have revealed an ancient draft horse bridge.

Yadvinder Malhi, professor of ecosystem science at the University of Oxford, said: “It’s extremely concerning. “It is an indication that there are major changes underway in the stability of global climate and regional weather that will place more and more stress on human systems and natural ecosystems. course.”

Because humans have heated the planet about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit), the climate is more volatile than expected, Dr. Malhi said. He added that if warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius or more, people can expect to see impacts much larger than initially feared.

“As there is more energy in the atmosphere, we have more and more extremes, even if those are overwhelming extremes.” like in Pakistanhe said, “or extreme drought like we’re seeing in Europe, China and parts of North America.”

Dr Malhi says these events are mostly predicted around 2040, and to witness them now clearly shows that climate change is happening faster than people thought.

Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said widespread concern over shrinking river beds and reservoirs across Europe could be attributed to the visual impact of extreme temperatures. high.

“Heat has always been an overlooked or overlooked extreme event because its impact is not as obvious as floods or hurricanes,” she said. “I think this year, because we have this temperature combined with the drought – and the temperatures are so extreme, we’ve made all these rivers dry up – that makes it so direct. much more important.”

Much of the growing crop of re-emergence artifacts and ruins is scattered across the Mediterranean, one of the few regions in the world with “great dryness,” says Dr.

“Things found in the Mediterranean are probably something we’ll get used to seeing, because there we’re going to have more and more very dry and hot years like this,” she said. Discoveries in other parts of Europe are more unusual, she said.

While some images from this summer – graphic hunger stones were discovered in Germany, a world war II bomb weighing 450 kg taken out of the riverbed in Italy and sheep sheltering beneath a medieval bridge over the dry Guadiana riverbed in Spain – eye-catching, the last time Europe saw one severe drought not long ago, in 2018. But this time, it’s more serious.

In northwestern Spain, the ancient village of Aceredo began to emerge from the depths of the Alto Lindoso reservoir in November 2021, at the beginning of the year. What is the severe drought now?. At the start of the year, Spain was experiencing its driest January in 20 years, and by February the reservoir had shrunk to 15% of its capacity, exposing the ruins of Aceredo. The condition did not improve much in the summer.

“The magnitude of this drought is on the order of once in a century or centuries,” Dr Malhi said, adding that while extreme droughts are normal, the challenge aware that the frequency of these events is increasing. overtime.

Dr. Otto warned parts of Europe may not fully recover from the current drought, particularly along the Mediterranean, where dry summers are expected to continue.

“We still have a lot to learn,” she said, when asked what the discoveries reveal about the state of Europe. “I think it says that climate change, especially in Europe, is always discussed as something that will happen in the future. It is not in the future. It is happening right now. “



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