High Temperatures and Erratic Rainfall Caused 2022 Droughts Around Czech Republic

Europe was the fastest heating continent in the world last year according to the 2022 State of the Environment Report. Credit: Freepik.

Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) – High temperatures and erratic rainfall led to the development of climatic, soil and hydrological drought in much of the Czech Republic in 2022, and the risk of wildfires increased as a result to its highest level since 2000, according to the 2022 State of the Environment Report.

The report, published by the Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA), found that Europe was the fastest heating continent in the world last year.

In 2022, Europe experienced its hottest summer and second hottest year ever, with drought affecting most land, more than 630,000 square kilometres, the report said. On average, 167,000 square kilometres were affected between 2000 and 2022. The country’s fire danger index for the growing season was the second highest since 2000. In July 2022, the Bohemian Switzerland National Park saw the largest forest fire in Czech history.

In addition to drought, the land is being depleted by intensive farming and low fragmentation of the agricultural landscape, according to the report. The area of ​​agricultural land is decreasing, especially arable land, and the area of ​​built-up land is increasing. Currently, the Ministry of the Environment estimates that about 700 hectares, the area of ​​about 1,000 football pitches, is being removed from agricultural use every year.

“During 2024, our amendment to the law on agricultural land fund protection will come into force, which fundamentally protects the most valuable agricultural land from clear-cutting for trade and storage. It will protect the non-productive functions of soil, especially water retention,” said Environment Minister Petr Hladik (KDU-CSL).

According to the ministry, 2,110 brownfield sites with a total area of ​​5,616 hectares were newly registered in the country from 2014 to 2022. In 2022, 174 sites with a total area of ​​279 hectares were removed from the National Brownfield Database and either sold or regenerated.

Compared to the year 2000, surface water quality improved significantly in 2022, the report said. Thanks to the construction of new wastewater treatment plants, the average concentration of ammonia nitrogen in watercourses between 2000 and 2022 fell the steepest, by 74%. The concentration of phosphorus and other chemicals also fell.

In 2022, five smog situations were declared due to ozone level thresholds being exceeded. Together, they lasted 53 hours.

According to the report, emissions of basic pollutants from transport are declining, with individual car transport being the largest source of transport emissions, with the highest shares of compounds produced by natural processes that can harm health (VOCs) (76.5%) and carbon monoxide (76.3%) emissions in 2022.

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in recent years has been affected by the development of bark beetle calamity in forests, which is gradually decreasing, but also by relatively slow development in the energy and transport sectors. The war in Ukraine and the energy crisis have also affected decision-making on environmental and climate protection measures.

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