Bleak prospects? How climate change could change Germany

The flood disaster in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate has created new pressure in the fight against man-made climate change. Shortly before, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) had one on behalf of Deutsche Bahn Analysis of climatic changes in the Federal Republic submitted. Accordingly, there will be significantly more hot days and less harsh winters in this country by around 2060. There is broad consensus within the EU that they want to be climate neutral by 2050. According to experts, this will not stop the consequences of climate change – at most, it will mitigate it. Climate researchers and other experts show what it could look like in Germany by then.

HEAT: There is little doubt in the professional world that long-term high temperatures are associated with man-made climate change. For the future, this will pose great challenges for people, as Daniela Jacob emphasizes. She is a meteorologist and director of the German Institute for Climate Services (Gerics) in Hamburg. “By 2050 we have to expect that the summer months will be significantly hotter and drier,” said Jacob. For the Upper Rhine Graben near Karlsruhe, it can already be projected that by the middle of the century the number of hot days (daily maximum temperature above 30 degrees Celsius) will approximately double compared to the period from 1970 to 2000.

HEALTH: Contrary to the idea of ​​bright sunshine and a holiday atmosphere, “warm weather” can be very bad for our health. “If the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees even at night, it means that we cannot rest properly and are less productive,” explains Jacob. Andreas Marx from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig assumes that the heat will put additional strain on the health system. For example, it could lead to more circulatory diseases.

France, for example, had a major heat wave in 2003 and at that time a good 35,000 additional deaths as a result of permanently high temperatures. Germany was largely spared that year, which is why there are poorer warning systems for heat waves in this country. That will probably change by 2050, says Marx.

AGRICULTURE: Persistent heat and long, heavy rain, experts say, will also mean a change for those who are very dependent on the weather. “In agriculture, we have to rely on varieties that can cope with these strong temperature and humidity variations,” says researcher Jacob. Another problem is that water will become scarcer by 2050. “Agriculture has to adapt so that it does not have to water the soil as often,” she adds.

In addition, farmers should not allow the soil to dry out too much, if possible. In general, it is important to consume the food produced in agriculture carefully, emphasizes the chairman of the German Climate Consortium, Mojib Latif. Far too much food is already being thrown away today. “A lot of energy and raw materials are wasted unnecessarily. That simply cannot work.”

FLOOD PROTECTION: As a result of man-made climate change, floods will increasingly pose a threat towards the year 2050, especially in areas in northern and western Europe, says Ralf Merz. The hydrologist works at the Halle an der Saale site of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research. This development is primarily related to the so-called jet stream. This drives the high and low pressure areas across Europe in the upper atmosphere, as the scientist explains. Because of climate change, the electricity has changed, so that high or low pressure systems remain in one place longer. “And that has happened again now with the low pressure area” Bernd “.” In the past, such a low would have continued after two days, but now it has stopped in one place – with devastating consequences.

TOURISM: The topics of tourism and climate change are already closely linked today. According to meteorologist Jacob, our holiday destinations will have changed by the middle of the century. The North and Baltic Seas could expect the summers there to become warmer and more stable. The threat from rising sea levels there is low until 2050 – the German coasts are “relatively well prepared” for this. However, this will become more critical by the end of the century. According to experts, other regions will suffer from this development. “I think the Mediterranean will not be so attractive in the future,” says the chairman of the climate consortium, Latif. According to Jacobs, there will be over 40 degrees in the summer months. “It’s too warm for a vacation. These regions will then be among the losers in tourism.”

RESIDE: Even today, when it’s unbearably warm outside, we like to take refuge in cold interiors. The fact that these are cooled down with energy-intensive use of air conditioning systems exacerbates the problem of man-made climate change, says Jacob. Scientist Marx, member of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative, therefore recommends insulating building shells much better, “then this also has the effect in summer that heat does not get into the house as quickly.” In his opinion, German cities in particular need to be rethought. “We need green and blue infrastructure in the city, that is, parks and bodies of water.” So you can ensure significant cooling in hot canyons. “This is because plants evaporate water and energy is carried away in the process.”

In an interview with the German Press Agency, the experts emphasize that more must be done to curb the rise in climate change. “We are just leaving the comfort zone,” warns climate researcher Latif. “How many floods of the century have we actually had in the last 30 years?” But it is still possible to meet the Paris climate targets – even if it is a “Herculean task”. According to the hydrologist Merz, climate change has advanced, “but hopefully we are still at the tipping point at which the climate will change significantly over the long term. That means we have to stop the development now before it is too late.”


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