Droughts threaten the Ukrainian breadbasket

Droughts threaten the Ukrainian breadbasket

This winter in Ukraine was not what it used to be. That was a remarkably mild weather and virtually no snowfalls happened at all. As of today the signs of climate change in Ukraine are already becoming increasingly obvious to the naked eye.

According to figures released in early January by Ukraine’s Central Geophysical Observatory, 2019 was the warmest year on record in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. The yearly average temperature was as much as 3 degrees Celsius higher than historic averages. Perhaps most strikingly, the temperature in December exceeded 15 degrees Celsius for the first time.

Warmer winters are only one aspect of the changes taking place in the Ukrainian climate. Other include extreme weather events and the mounting issue of water scarcity. This has the potential to cause significant damage to the Ukrainian economy, particularly the Ukraine’s agricultural sector. 

Water supply is probably the most crucial aspect of climate change in Ukraine. Freshwater reserves are in decline and expected to be even scarcer in the coming years as droughts become more frequent. At the same time, the absence of a seasonal snow cover in Ukraine poses threats to winter crops.

Occasional heavy rainfalls, which are more and more often, will not provide for sufficient accumulation of moisture in the soil, either. If current trends continue, up to 60% of Ukrainian agricultural lands may soon require additional irrigation and it is obvious that certain areas in southern Ukraine are at risk of desertification. These are the most alarming implications for Ukrainian farmers.