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Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Will the Rhine run dry?

A number of signs indicate that water levels of the Rhine will drop significantly in the near future, which is worrying news not only for the river’s ecosystem – it may also have a major impact on the German economy.

In the autumn of 2018, along some sections of the Rhine it was possible to walk to the sandbanks of the riverbed without getting one’s feet wet. At Cologne, record low depth of only 77 cm was measured. The river is largely fed by water from glaciers: according to a fresh survey, the amount of water they contribute is 35 percent less than it was in the first half of the 70s.

The Rhine is one of Europe’s most important commercial river waterways: it connects Switzerland through Germany to Rotterdam, the continent’s most important port. Dropping water levels could cause billions of damage to the economy. It is some 40 percent cheaper to transport goods from Basel to Rotterdam by water than by any other means. If the Rhine remains permanently low, very many companies will be forced to rethink their transportation strategies.

In 2017, 186 million tonnes of goods were transported by water between Basel and the German-Dutch border region, but most of that amount may be forced to switch to trains and trucks due to the drying up of the Rhine
Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: Bloomberg

One of the driest and warmest summers in Germany

This year’s was the third hottest summer in Germany since the beginning of regular meteorological records in 1881, according to preliminary data from the Federal Meteorological Service.

Sad pictures of a lake that disappears in Chile

In 2011, Laguna de Aculeo, one of the country’s favourite bathing resorts, still covered 12 square kilometres, and the lake was 6 metres deep – but since then, it has completely dried out.

One billion tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the air in Africa

The problem of the water shortages caused by global warming is much more complex than we have thought. In some parts of Africa, people not only need to face thirst but also the fact that the regions impacted by drought emit a quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent to the emissions of two hundred million cars each year.

UN report: climate change could cause global famine

According to a new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that focuses on the interaction between climate change, desertification and food security, if present land use habits are maintained, the planet’s capacity to produce food will drop drastically.

European Union aid for drought-stricken Africa

The EU is contributing a further 50 million euro to alleviate drought damage in a number of Eastern and Central African countries. According to estimates, more than 4 million children and about 3 million pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are undernourished in the region.

Seventeen countries suffer critical water shortages

According to a report from the World Resources Institute, 17 countries are facing extremely high water stress, from India through Israel to Botswana. Many of the countries in question – which, collectively, are home to a quarter of the world’s population – are in the Middle East and North Africa.

Zimbabwe hit by power outages due to drought

Drought in the South African country that largely relies on hydroelectric power is causing not only shortages of drinking water but also power outages of up to 16 hours a day in the capital.

The endangered Nile

The water yield of the River Nile is becoming increasingly erratic as a result of climate change, which may have very grave consequences for Egypt.

India among the countries worst affected by global warming

Unprecedented droughts, heat waves claiming more than a hundred lives: the summer of 2019 has made it clear for the whole world that India is in big trouble. How will climate change shape the future of the country?

Are Europe's rivers also at the risk of running dry?

Climate change is increasingly making itself felt in Europe, too: flash floods, heat waves, droughts and forest fires are on the rise on the continent.

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