Italians are currently experiencing the country’s worst drought in 70 years with food, power, crops, livestock and even drinking water coming under threat.
An intense, early summer heatwave, combined with the fact that barely any rain has fallen for four months, initially hit hardest in the north and has wreaked havoc on the River Po.
Italy’s longest river is currently seven metres lower than usual, according to the Po River District Basin Authority, and parts of it have even been reduced to long stretches of sand.
The European Space Agency (ESA) released satellite images of the Po this week, showing just how dramatically the river has shrunk over the past two years.
As can be seen in the pictures comparing the river in June 2020 and June 2022, the previously wide expanse of water has entirely dried up in patches, laying bare the extent of the crisis.
The Po Valley produces around 40% of Italy’s food, including wheat, rice and tomatoes, and reports say the agricultural industry faces losses of as much as 3 billion euros as a result of the drought.
The damage caused by the crisis looks set to continue with the drought spreading to central Italy, where levels of the Arno, Aniene and Tiber are already drastically reduced.
Credit: Copernicus Sentinel data (2020-22), processed by ESA
CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO