Crop Loss Extreme Weather 

Meridional Flow to Blame for Historically Low European Potato Harvest

Europe is experiencing its “worst drought in recent history” with some countries issuing a state of emergency and many more imposing water restrictions. 

According to the Raw Materials Procurement Department of the Emsland Group, this year’s potato harvest will be at an historically low level which presents a massive challenge for growers, processors and their customers.

The potato crop is expected to be reduced by a minimum of 25%, with large potatoes, necessary to produce French fries, in extremely short supply.

“The situation is dire,” reported the Emsland Group.

Solar Variability and European Weather

Research shows blocking persistence increases when solar activity is low, causing weather patterns to become locked in place at high and intermediate latitudes for prolonged periods of time.

During a solar minimum, the jet stream’s usual Zonal Flow (a west–east direction) reverts to more of a Meridional Flow (a north-south direction) — this is exaggerated further during a Grand Solar Minimum.

Mikhaël Schwander, et al, 2017 — “The zonal flow characteristic of westerly types is reduced under low solar activity as the continental flow for easterly and northerly types is enhanced. This is also confirmed by the higher blocking frequency over Scandinavia under low solar activity.”

A stationary high-pressure weather system resulted in the UK and much of continental Europe experiencing one of the worst droughts in history.

And the paper goes further:

“The 247-year-long analysis of the 11-year solar cycle impact on late winter European weather patterns suggests a reduction in the occurrence of westerly flow types linked to a reduced mean zonal flow under low solar activity. Based on this observational evidence, we estimate the probability to have cold conditions in winter over Europe to be higher under low solar activity than under high activity.” — Mikhaël Schwander, et al, 2017

With this being a Grand Solar Minimum we’re entering, we can expect the NH’s winter of 2018/19 to be truly brutal, with record cold temperatures and snow accumulations.


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