Lakes and rivers in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, China and the United States are drying up as drought and water shortages hit the northern hemisphere

Striking images from across the northern hemisphere show the severity of the droughts hitting countries in Europe, as well as China and the United States.

A UN report has warned that droughts have become longer and more frequent since 2000, with climate change being the main factor.

In Germany, falling water levels on the Rhine have made it impassable for many boats.

Passenger ferries have been forced to cease operations in parts of the Rhine.(Reuters: Benjamin Westoff)

As one of Europe’s great active rivers, the Rhine is usually filled with ships transporting raw materials and products to and from power stations and factories along the waterway.

Drought: aerial view of the Rhine
Rhine barges face challenge navigating remaining channels(Reuters: Wolfgang Rattay)

However, low water levels across the country are seeing ‘hunger stones’ – known locally as Hungerstein – reappear on riverbeds.

    A large boulder with an unfinished sculpture of 'MGM 2022' sits on a rocky river.  River visible in background
Throughout history, stones have served as a warning of famine. (Reuters: Andreas Kranz)
Aerial view of a lakkebed with several large rectangular stones.  The stones each have different years engraved into them
Some of the stones discovered date from 1947. (Reuters: Maximilian Schwarz)

Further south, Spain is facing its worst drought on record, with research suggesting the Iberian Peninsula could be the driest in more than 1,000 years.

Its dryness has also led to the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle dubbed the “Spanish Stonehenge”, which has only been fully visible four times since 1963.

Dozens of rounded stones rise from a rocky lake bed against a sunset horizon.
The Guadalperal Dolmen, nicknamed the Spanish Stonehenge, dates back to 5000 BC.(Reuters: Susana Vera )
An aerial view of dozens of round stones rising from a dry lake bed.
Little is known about who erected the stones, which were rediscovered in 1926. (Reuters: Susana Vera)

Neighboring France is experiencing its worst drought since records began in 1958, according to its national weather agency.

On average, less than 1cm of rain fell across France in July and dozens of villages had to rely on tanker deliveries as the taps dried up.

A dry pond in Tourtour, France
Cracked and dry earth is seen in what was a pond in Tourtour, as France experiences its worst drought in at least 65 years. (Reuters: Eric Gaillard)

Water restrictions are in place across much of the country and the corn harvest is expected to be almost 20% lower than in 2021, according to the French agriculture ministry.

Drought: Italy Lake Garda
Underwater rocks emerged from the waters of Lake Garda in Italy.(Reuters: Flavio Lo Scalzo)

Italy’s worst drought in decades has reduced Lake Garda – the country’s largest lake – to its lowest level on record, exposing swaths of previously underwater rock.

Northern Italy has not seen significant rainfall for months and snowfall this year has fallen by 70%, drying up important rivers such as the Po, which runs through Italy’s agricultural and industrial heartland. Italy.

Clay castle by a Swiss artist built on the dry bed of the Le Toleure river in Saubraz
Land art artist François Monthoux works on his “Château de Monthoux” made of clay recovered from the dry bed of the Le Toleure river in Switzerland.(Reuters: Denis Balibouse)

The water levels of many Swiss rivers and lakes have also fallen to very low levels.

Meanwhile, across the mainland in China, regions dependent on the Yangtze River must deploy pumps and cloud-seeding rockets as drought depletes water levels and threatens crops, with a heat wave that is expected to last another two weeks.

Exposed shore of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, China.
An aerial view shows low water levels in the Yangtze River in Wuhan.(Reuters)

In the United States – where more than 70% of its landmass has experienced extreme or severe drought conditions – there are warnings about water supplies, with reservoirs in the Colorado Basin – Lake Mead and the Lake Powell – at historically low levels.

Drought: Colorado River
A bath ring of light minerals shows the high water mark of Lake Mead near the Hoover Dam.(PA: John Locher)

In Lake Mead, four sets of human remains have been discovered since May as water levels drop.

Police say there may be more bodies discovered as the shore becomes more exposed.

The hull of a boat stands directly in the bed of a lake.  3/4 of the boat is dark where it was previously submerged.
Human remains and sunken ships are among the things discovered at the bottom of Lake Mead.(PA: John Locher )
Dead and rotting fish stand in the cracks of a dry lake bed.
Dead and withered fish litter the ground where Lake Mead once stood. (PA: John Locher)