THE Gonella Hut, more than 3,000 metres up on the Italian side of Monte Bianco, should be bustling with climbers in August. Instead, it is empty. Davide Gonella, the manager, closed it at the end of last month for lack of water.
“The snowfield we use for our supply had gone,” he says. The high summer temperatures that have seared southern Europe this year were only partly to blame. When he reopened his refuge in early June, Mr Gonella could already see the snowfield was much smaller than usual, because so little snow had fallen last winter.
It is a story repeated with variations from the north-western edge of Spain to the south-eastern tip of Italy. At Bracciano outside Rome, rainfall in the first half of the year was more than 80% below its ten-year average. This has shrunk the lake of the same name, which is the capital’s main water source. By late July Lake Bracciano was only 10cm above the level at which government scientists see a real risk of an…Continue reading