Czech Republic

Severe floods

Stepanka Hanzlikova

© Ivan Stritesky

Flash flood in Jeseník nad Odrou in 2009

© Aerodata, s.r.o.

“Stepanka Hanzlikova (±80) who has lived in Jeseník nad Odrou for 70 years survived by hanging onto a birch tree that she planted a long time ago for several hours. “The water has always been here in smaller or greater quantities and flooded pastures and fields, without affecting people’s livesthat much. But what happened in 2009 was a catastrophe for the entire village and I suffered a trauma that remains with me even after all these years.”

Scientific Background

A worrying dry spell has prevailed in the Czech Republic over the past six years. It reached its peak in spring 2020, when the country experienced its worst drought in 500 years. Very little rainfall, rising average temperatures and mild winters are exacerbating the growing shortage of groundwater and river water. The grass is still growing, but beneath the surface, the soil is drying out completely. The harvest losses are estimated to lie between 20% and 40%. In the Olomouc region, the drought in summer 2020 was followed within a very short time by storms, heavy rains and flooding. Near Uničov, the water level of the River Oskava rose from 1.3 m to 3.3 m. The alternating periods of flooding and drought will become even more of a problem in the future.

Other implications of climate change

The ecosystem in the Czech Republic’s spruce forests is on the verge of collapse. This is mainly due to the exponential increase in bark beetle infestation rates, delays in their control and extermination, and a spruce population stricken by a lack of rainfall. The number of trees infested with bark beetles has roughly doubled every year since 2015 and, since 2018, the amount of wood lost to the infestation has even exceeded the normal timber harvest. More than half of the spruce forests have already been affected and, according to the prognoses, hardly any will be left in 15 years’ time.