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Wildfires in France and Drought in China

August 10-17, 2022 | Issue 16 - Emergency Management, Health, and Hazards (EMH2)

Alyssa Schmidt, Jennifer Radlinsky, EMH2 Team

Valentina Topatigh, Editor; Manja Vitasovic, Senior Editor


Bordeaux Wine Region[1]


Date: August 10, 2022

Location: Gironde, France

Parties involved: French citizens; French government; firefighters; winemakers

The event: Wildfires damaged homes of at least 10,000 persons, who had to evacuate. The reignition of previous fires, which were active in July, caused the current ones, and the ongoing drought accelerated the spread, causing destruction to 15,314 acres. In July, wildfires destroyed 49,400 acres of forest, and 40,000 people were evacuated from the same area.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Residents in the areas surrounding fires will likely evacuate. Evacuated will likely seek compensation from the government for the home reparations and lost wages. Replenishing resources destroyed in fires, like wood for rebuilding homes, will very likely require assistance from other regions or neighboring countries, like Switzerland.

  • Emergency services’ effectiveness will likely decrease due to road closures and damaged infrastructure in the affected area. Firefighters will likely be overwhelmed with ongoing fires and their ability for effective response will likely decrease. Emergency services will likely be hindered by manpower shortages due to fire-related injuries and will likely require assistance from nearby regions.

  • The Gironde wildfires will very likely destroy most of the crops, likely impacting the region’s wine industry. The vineyards will unlikely be able to operate until fires are extinguished, likely causing winemakers to seek government assistance to continue production. Lower production will likely decrease sales, and prices will likely increase, as producers will likely seek assistance to recover lost revenue and rebuild destroyed vineyards.

Date: August 15, 2022

Location: Yangtze River Valley, China

Parties involved: Villages along the Yangtze River; agricultural industry; Yangtze River farmers; Chinese government; humanitarian organizations

The event: Higher than usual temperatures and drought in China are causing a small amount of rainfall in the Yangtze River and its tributaries. This weather is expected to last at least two more weeks and will limit the water volume in the Yangtze River. The area’s agricultural industry is dependent on river water for field irrigation, especially in rice fields. A lower water level in the river is prompting villages in the area to identify alternative irrigation methods.

Analysis & Implications:

  • Drought will almost certainly lower water levels in the Yangtze River and will likely decrease irrigation, very likely limiting the production of crops, like rice. Lack of rainwater will very likely affect reservoirs by lowering the amount of water kept in reserve, likely limiting future crops due to the lack of nutrients. Limited crops and water will likely delay access to food for the Yangtze River Valley, likely forcing residents to seek assistance from the government or humanitarian organizations.

  • Traditional practices, like releasing reservoir supply or using lake water to irrigate fields, will unlikely produce enough water due to the lack of rainfall, so the farmers will likely request water from nearby cities. Alternative methods, like installing pumps to nearby lakes to irrigate fields, are likely costly for farmers. The harvest season will likely produce less rice, likely negatively affecting the local economy by increasing prices.[3]

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[1] Bordeaux Wine Region by Trainspotter licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Wildfires rage in France, thousands evacuated from homes, Reuters, August 2022 https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/wildfires-rage-southwestern-france-amid-new-heatwave-2022-08-10/

[3] China's Yangtze river shrinks as heatwave, drought threaten crops, Reuters, August 2022 https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinas-yangtze-river-shrinks-heatwave-drought-threaten-crops-2022-08-15/






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