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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has identified the northern Mediterranean countries as one of the areas at risk of desertification. One of the main factors determining this situation is the effect of extensive periods of drought in this area, This paper proposes a methodology for using soil and climatic data to assess the risk of drought in Europe and the potential extension of this methodology to the Mediterranean basin. In the case of agricultural drought, it is the soil water available to plants (SWAP) that is the most important soil factor in assessing this risk and a simple model for estimating this is described. This model can be linked to spatial and point data from the European Soil Database and a preliminary map of SWAP in Europe has been produced using a pedotransfer rule. The study concludes that more precise modelling of droughtiness, based on interactions of soil available water with the average soil moisture deficit, estimated from meteorological data, is needed, to support policy making today but that currently the necessary soil physical data are lacking to fully implement this approach.

Additional information

Authors: MONTANARELLA L, JRC-Environment Institute Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: Oral Report delivered at: Ricicla 2000, Hosted by: Dr. Diego Ciavatta, Rimini (IT) 08 November, 2000
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