Azores Anticyclone swells: Spain’s worst drought in 1,200 years

large areas Spain and Portugal suffer drought The most severe of all recorded in 1200 yearsIt’s due to the high-pressure atmospheric system driven by climate change, according to international scientific research published Monday, warning of serious implications for wine and oil production. This is because apparently, The Azores anticyclone is increasing in volume and thus changing the meteorological regime of the Peninsula.

The Azores Anticyclone, a high-pressure system rotating clockwise over this region of the North Atlantic, has a major impact on climate and long-term climate trends in Western Europe. However, in this new study published in the journal Nature GeologyUS researchers found that this high-pressure system “has changed significantly in the last century And these changes in the North Atlantic climate are unprecedented in the last millennium.”

Using climate model simulations over the past 1200 years, the study showed that this high-pressure system began to grow to cover a larger area about 200 years ago, when human pollution by greenhouse gases begins to increase. From then on, it spread even more strongly at the rate of global warming in the 20th century.

In addition, the authors analyzed evidence of preserved precipitation levels in Portuguese stalagmites for hundreds of years and found that as the Azores Anticyclone expanded, winters in the western Mediterranean became drier.

A snapshot of the drought that Malaga has suffered Shutterstock


The study also provides a forecast of how precipitation will change in the future on the Iberian Peninsula. Specifically, the projections used by the researchers predict: Precipitation could drop another 10 to 20 percent by the end of this centuryIt would make Iberian agriculture “one of the most vulnerable in Europe,” according to the authors.

They also warn that the Azores anticyclone will continue to expand into the 21st century as greenhouse gas levels increase, increasing the risk of drought in the Iberian Peninsula and threatening the viability of important crops.

“Our findings have important implications for projected changes in the hydroclimate of the western Mediterranean during the 21st century,” the authors said.

The ‘protector’ of the rains

The Azores Anticyclone acts as Europe’s rain “guard”, according to the study, with dry air descending in the summer, causing hot, dry conditions in Portugal, Spain and much of the western Mediterranean.

Instead, during the colder, wetter winter, the high pressure system swells, sending rain-carrying westerly winds inland.

This winter rain is ‘vital’ to both the ecological and economic health of the region, but it is dwindlingespecially in the second half of the 20th century.

landscape affected by drought pixabay


While previous research has not resolved the effects of this anticyclone’s natural variability, the authors said their findings show that its industrial-era expansion is linked to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Vines may be gone by 2050

As for the future of some agricultural activities, the research yields less reassuring results: vine cultivation in the Iberian Peninsula could be reduced by at least a quarter, and It will potentially disappear almost entirely by 2050 due to severe water scarcity.

Meanwhile, the researchers made a guess. 30 percent decrease in production from olive growing regions from southern Spain by 2100.

Winemakers are looking for ways to adapt to the changing climate, such as moving their vineyards to higher altitudes and trying more heat-tolerant varieties.

Reference work: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-022-00971-w

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Environment department contact address:crisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

Source: Informacion

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