Pillars and Expertise

Climate Change

The local impact of a global transformation: drought in Piemonte in 2022

No rain, jumpers and heavy jackets in the wardrobe. The 2022 winter in Piedmont will be remembered as one of the hottest and driest in history. More than a hundred days without a drop of water and temperatures that, on average, exceeded reference levels by more than two degrees, with peaks locally of 4 or 5 degrees. The main cause of this phenomenon was an anomalous and prolonged permanence of an anticyclone over Europe (usually associated with ‘good weather’), which resulted in a natural ‘blockade’ against the usual incursions of colder and wetter air from Atlantic Ocean or Arctic Circle, for more than three months.


Piemonte region - Italy

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Hydroelectric power production

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Decline in rice harvest 2021-2022

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Groundwater level difference 2021-2022

From global to local

The 2021/22 winter season was perhaps the best possible example of global waming consequences on a local level. The absence of water – for example – exposes the primary sector’s economy in the Po Valley to an unprecedented crisis. Something that has never been recorded, at least in the historical memory of the area’s farmers, and that has forced emergency decisions, in any case not sufficient to guarantee a harvest equal to that of previous years.

The consequences for the territory

Our team’s work started with the rice fields in the Vercelli and Novara areas, thanks to the collaboration with the Associazione d’Irrigazione Est Sesia. If the primary sector is the most exposed in the immediate future, the drought has affected many other sectors: from the energy sector – with artificial lakes emptied by the lack of rainfall – to other economic activities that depend on water.

A forward-looking approach

Ultimately, our team investigated the potential long-term effects of climate change. Indeed, the problem is not only limited to what can be observed on the surface: it is above all the aquifers that are affected by the lack of rainfall. Immense underground deposits that contain natural ‘stores’ of water and which, at the moment, are showing alarming downward trends.