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Driest winter since 1940s raises red flags in Spain

Miguel Riopa / AFP - Getty Images

A fisherman sits by the border of the Portodemouros reservoir, some 60 km from Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on March 1. The reservoir has a low level of water due a prolonged drought.The driest winter in the last 40 years has raised red flags in Spain, where farmers face the threat of drought.

According to Terra Daily:

Miguel Riopa / AFP - Getty Images

A picture taken on March 1, shows the Portodemouros reservoir, near the village of Brocos, Spain.

At the beginning of 2011, water levels in Spain's reservoirs reached an average of 77.83% of total capacity. However, the lack of rain last year has now reduced the average to 62.01%. The droughts that Spain experiences year on year are one of the main concerns of agricultural workers who use up to 80% of a reservoir's water for their crops.

A new study at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) has combined recorded data with the results from state-of-the-art regional climate change models to calculate the maximum length of droughts in detail.

The results, which have been applied to the Segura river basin, show how "drought periods since the 1980s onwards have notably intensified," according to Sandra Garcia Galiano, one of the authors of the study.