Sicily’s Iconic Lake Pergusa Drying Up Amid Severe Drought

Sicily, the Mediterranean island, is facing a severe drought that has nearly dried up its only natural lake, Lake Pergusa. This lake has long served as a vital resting station for birds migrating between Africa and Europe.

The Italian government has declared a state of emergency over the crisis, which has devastated crops and desiccated pastures across the island. Lake Pergusa, part of a natural reserve close to the central Sicilian town of Enna, has shrunk dramatically due to a combination of hot weather and low rainfall.

According to Giuseppe Maria Amato from the environmentalist group Legambiente, “The lake is no longer there. The part of the water that was visible has completely disappeared, apart from this puddle.”

Sicily has long grappled with climate change-related high temperatures, setting a European heat record in 2021 of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119 degrees Fahrenheit). Drought crises have also hit other parts of Europe in recent years, especially affecting the Mediterranean region where the average temperature is now 1.5°C higher than 150 years ago.

Amato said that Lake Pergusa is an “indicator of what Sicily is suffering due to climate change,” and that a lack of maintenance and a poor sewage system have exacerbated the emergency. The lake’s surface normally covers 1.8 square km (0.7 square miles) and has no rivers flowing in or out of it.

The drying up of this iconic lake is a stark reminder of the severe impacts of climate change on the delicate ecosystems of the Mediterranean region. As Sicily grapples with this drought crisis, the future of Lake Pergusa and the biodiversity it supports hangs in the balance.

Sicily’s Iconic Lake Pergusa Drying Up Amid Severe Drought
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