Enlarge image

Drought in Cologne (picture from summer 2022): The number of summers with severe heat waves is increasing


Oliver Berg / dpa

Global warming is advancing, and the consequences are also intensifying in this country. Germany regularly experiences heat waves, is getting warmer overall and is losing water. This is the conclusion of the Federal Government's third climate monitoring report. "The devastating consequences of the climate crisis are increasing to an alarming extent," said Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) on the occasion of the presentation. The report shows this "abundantly clearly".

According to this, the number of summers with severe heat waves and unprecedented temperature records increased. For example, in July 2022, a temperature of over 53 degrees was measured north of the 40rd parallel in Hamburg for the first time. The past four years have also been marked by severe regional droughts. According to the report, Germany is one of the regions with the highest water loss in the world: Since 2000, the country has been losing 2.5 cubic kilometers of water per year.

The lack of water, in turn, leads to crop losses in agriculture and greater pressure on forests. (Read more about this here). Due to the drought stress and the associated beetle infestation, the forest condition deteriorated significantly, according to the information. In 2020, 20 times as many spruces died as the average of the previous ten years. Due to the extremely dry weather, there were also considerably more and more extensive forest fires.

According to the report, the warming of the environment and the loss of water are associated with measurable ecological consequences: both in the oceans and on land, there is a change in species composition. New species are migrating from warmer regions, such as the tiger mosquito as a vector of pathogens.

"More and more storms, heavy rainfall, droughts and heat waves are impacting people's health, ecosystems and the economy," Lemke said of the report. The good news is that more and more municipalities are pushing ahead with precautionary measures with concrete projects.

The German government is supporting them in this, among other things, with the Climate Adaptation Act and several funding programmes. At the same time, Lemke called for even more commitment: "In order to maintain the quality of life in Germany, we must push ahead with climate adaptation more vigorously."

"In addition to the damage, the report also shows that adjustments are having an effect on the ground," said UBA President Dirk Messner, according to the press release. According to him, the number of heat-related deaths could be reduced, for example, through targeted information campaigns.