Water tables, river flow rates and temperatures: the info-sécheresse.fr platform is already forecasting another summer of high drought alert
- After a summer marked by many episodes of drought throughout France in 2020, the data collected by info-sécheresse.fr predicts more weeks of high drought alert this year.
- With more than 10,000 monitoring points throughout France and real-time collection of water table status, river flow rate, rainfall and temperature data, this Saur Group online platform forecasts the risk of major water stress in several areas, including the South-West, the Mediterranean coast, Brittany, the Rhône valley, the Loire region and the Moselle valley.
- The early heatwave currently over France heightens this risk of drought this summer.
The Info-sécheresse website is a very practical application of the Saur commitment to using data for the greater good.
In response to episodes of drought and water stress, Saur launched the info-secheresse.fr website via its imaGeau subsidiary in 2020. This free-to-use public service website provides continuous access to qualified and spatialized drought data for all the departments of France.
The service continuously gathers and interprets a full range of publicly available data from the three key drought analysis sciences of meteorology, hydrology and hydrogeology for presentation via the website. Unique in its method, this initiative extracts value from all the relevant public databases to assess the current status of water resources in real time.
It is also the first system in France to highlight the worsening drought situation in mainland France.
Saur Executive Chairman Patrick Blethon: “The data we’re collecting confirms that drought events will continue to become increasingly common in the years ahead. To help us anticipate and manage this risk more effectively, we’re making new technical and digital resources available to everyone via the Info-sécheresse.fr platform. It’s an initiative that reflects our commitment to defend water.”
A system uprated in 2021 to forecast the drought-related risks in the most at-risk regions of France
The platform predicts drought risks for the South-West, the Mediterranean coast, Brittany, the Rhône valley, the Loire region and the Moselle valley.
The relatively healthy level of rainfall experienced by most of France during the winter, which helped to replenish water tables to a good level, was followed by a drought in the spring.
Although rainfall was more than 25% below average in April, an almost equivalent increase in average rainfall during May redressed the situation. But cumulative rainfall over the last three months (a major indicator of drought status) has resulted in very marked reductions of between 40% and 50% in South-Western France and Brittany.These spring rainfall deficits have done nothing to help surface water tables return to normal levels this year.
Olivier Depraz is CEO of imaGeau (a Saur Group company): “The data show a clear worsening of the drought position in France.Against this background, info-sécheresse.fr helps operators to put in place preventive measures to guarantee water supplies for users.”
At June 16, 2021, half of the 375 most heavily exploited surface water tables in France were at a low level, and a quarter were assessed as between low and very low. Those regions most badly affected are the Mediterranean coast, the Rhone valley and the Vendée.
A dynamic map of the surface water table is updated daily on info-secheresse.fr.
Temperature is an aggravating factor in drought because it increases evaporation and boosts the volumes of water consumed by users and plants.
The current early heatwave is therefore accelerating the pace at which we are approaching the summer drought of 2021.
The average temperatures recorded over the last week - between June 9 and 16 - are more than 3°C above the seasonal norms over large areas of France.
The website has now gained a number of new features designed to improve forecasting of drought-related risks by catchment area and water table. Info-sécheresse.fr now consolidates data from more than 10,000 monitoring points, and displays water stress levels across France in real time.
Matthieu Baïsset, Technical Director at imaGeau (a Saur Group company): “The rise in average temperatures over the past 30 years has definitely driven the increasing frequency of droughts. In fact, we have had seven summer droughts in the decade between 2010 and 2020. According to the data recorded in mid-June, summer 2021 will unfortunately be no exception to this ongoing sequence of water shortages. The impact of climate change on the availability of water resources during the summer months is becoming increasingly clear, and poses a major challenge for the regions of France in addressing our ecological challenges.”
The info-secheresse.fr website