The drought: A window into observing 'wetness' in the dairy grasslands

Between 2017 and 2020 as well as from March to September 2022, Flanders is hit by a series of droughts. In July 2022, the VRT publishes a news article explaining that the precipitation deficit since the 1st of April 2022 had been of 250 liters per square meter. This was due to lower-than-average precipitations and higher than average evaporation. As a result, the summer of 2022 counts in the 5% driest summers since recordings were made. The hydrologist Patrick Willems, interviewed by the VRT, argued that this kind of weather ‘should’ only occur once every 20 to 30 years. However, since 2017, this is the 5th particularly dry summer. Climate change scenarios predict that this kind of extreme event will become more frequent.

Flanders’ climate web-portal differentiates between three types of droughts. Firstly, meteorological droughts point to a deficit in the amount of precipitation due to the precipitation level being lower than the evaporation. Secondly, hydrological droughts appear when the flow rates of watercourses are too low, or simply dried out. Finally, agricultural droughts occur when crops and vegetation endure stress due to the soil moisture being too low.