Denmark a desert as farming and forest fire concerns escalate – The Post

Denmark a desert as farming and forest fire concerns escalate

Haunting images of the 2018 drought look set to return (photo: Beredskab Øst)
April 23rd, 2019 10:42 am| by Ben Hamilton

Despite last month being Denmark’s rainiest since records began (in total 106.5 mm fell), the dryness of its ground would currently lead most experts to conclude that it is mid-June, not the end of April.

At this point in the year, Denmark’s dryness rating, according to an index the country started using 15 years ago, should be between 1.0 and 2.0.

Last April, ahead of the long summer drought, it stood at 1.9. But as of mid-April, it was 6.2, and now it has risen to 8.5.

90 percent less rainfall than normal
Although we’ve had a cold snap bringing both sleet and snow, barely a drop of rainfall has fallen in April – just 2.5 mm over the first 17 days, which leaves the country on course to finish 90 percent below the normal April average of 41 mm.

To steady the ship, Denmark needs over 85 mm of rainfall – 10 mm for every point on the index – and every day it doesn’t rain it loses another 3 mm through evaporation.

Some 3 mm is forecast for Friday in Copenhagen, but the warm temperatures of the last week look set to continue until then, with thermometers approaching 20 degrees by the end of the week.

Worse in Jutland than Zealand
TV2 has spoken to a farmer in Tarm in mid Jutland who has already started watering his rapeseed – the earliest he has ever taken the measure.  And in North Jutland, the problem is said to be critical.

Zealand, though, is less affected due to the predominance of clay soils, which enable easier water passage.

Nevertheless, Copenhagen has the highest dryness rating in the country at 9.8 following an April in which there has been no rainfall whatsoever.

Forest fire menace at our doors
The lack of rainfall has dramatically increased Denmark’s chances of enduring natural fires, with the southwestern part of the country the most vulnerable.

On Easter Sunday, a fire raged over 15,000 sqm of land in Nørre Snede in mid-Jutland, and there were also significant blazes in Hillerød in north Zealand and near Lalandia in Rødby on Lolland.

According to the European forest fire warning system EFFIS, the country is one of the most at-risk areas in the continent right now with a rating far worse than the Mediterranean countries.

Only eastern Poland, Germany and the Netherlands are as badly off.

Birch pollen counts soaring
In news related to the recent return of warm temperatures following a chilly first two weeks to the month, birch pollen counts have been soaring spectacularly over the last week.

On Easter Sunday, the east of the country recorded its highest daily count since 2014, when 2,227 particles per cubic metre were registered in Copenhagen, according to Asthma Allergy Danmark.

Rising from 311 on April 19, the figure fell yesterday to 1,810 – a long way off the record of 4,696 set on April 21 in 2014.

If previous years are anything to go by, the high counts will most probably diminish by the weekend, but the season could roll on for some time yet. In both 2017 and 2018, the season finally fizzled out on May 21.