Drought and heat in Europe 2018
The drought and heat in Europe in 2018 was a weather anomaly with below-average rainfall ( drought ), above-average temperatures (including heat waves ) and above-average hours of sunshine , especially in the northern and central parts of Europe in the spring and summer months. As a result, there were numerous forest fires, crop failures and further heat damage. Due to the high water temperatures of some rivers, power plants have been shut down or throttled, and inland navigation has been partially suspended due to low water levels. The extraordinary drought that prevailed in parts of Europe persisted into late autumn and the weeks of Advent. In various European countries such as Germany, France and Switzerland as well as throughout Europe, 2018 brought new heat records .
Continuous warmth and drought began in Europe in April 2018 when a blocking omegalage existed, which led to a complete breakdown of the west wind drift . These very long-term stable hot high pressure weather conditions , which extend over large parts of the northern hemisphere and hardly change over long periods of time, are judged to be very unusual by both meteorologists and climate researchers . Climate researchers interpret the weather anomalies against the background of man-made climate change . Among other things, this has increased the likelihood of stable weather conditions developing in Europe, which in summer either leads to an above-average amount of rain or - as in the present case - to persistent drought and heat.
Scandinavia was particularly hard hit by the heat wave. It began in May of 2018 and brought temperature deviations of more than 4 degrees.
A severe drought began in June in the British Isles , particularly Ireland and Scotland . UK experienced the warmest summer since 1976, in Ireland and Scotland, the highest temperatures were since the beginning of weather records measured. The persistent drought led to a decline in drinking water reserves; the lawn watering was banned across the country indefinitely. The royal gardens in London were largely brownish-gray instead of green.
In Iceland , people experienced the coldest and wettest summer on record. The mean temperature in the months of May, June and July was only 7.7 ° C, the precipitation during this period was more than 300 liters per square meter.
According to the balance sheet of the German Weather Service, with an average temperature of 10.5 degrees Celsius, 2018 was the warmest year since weather records began in 1881. At the same time, it was the fourth driest year in the same period and the sunniest year since these measurements began in 1951. According to Deutscher The weather service (DWD) makes the combination of the warmest year with an "extremely dry year" at the same time climatologically "unique". The Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ described the drought as a "large-scale drought in Germany both in the topsoil and over the entire depth of the soil" that occurred for the first time since 1976 and called the summer and autumn of 2018 "drier than in all previous years available in the drought monitor since 1951 ".
From April to October there was an unusually dry and hot general weather situation in Germany, which was hardly interrupted; even in mid-October were often reached summer levels, the warmest October day was 28.6 ° C daily maximum temperature of 13 October in Tönisvorst . With an average of 11.6 degrees Celsius, it was 2.2 degrees warmer than the long-term average of 9.4 degrees. The period from April to October 2018 was the driest since measurements began; 40% less rain fell than the long-term average. A sustainable change in weather conditions did not take place until December 2018. Particularly in the south-west of Germany there was sometimes more rainfall in December than in the entire summer of the same year. Overall, however, there was a large water deficit between December 2018 and February 2019 despite slightly above-average rainfall. As of April 2019, the soil was missing an average of around 200 to 300 liters of water per square meter, so that at this point in time, due to the great drought, the highest forest fire warning level was sometimes again declared. In some places the drought was so great that winter crops such as rapeseed had to be plowed up again due to poor development.
Nationwide, new records were set in Germany for the number of summer days and hot days . T. significantly exceeded. In total, there were an average of 75 summer days with at least 25 degrees and more than 20 hot days with at least 30 degrees. Neither had existed since records began in 1881; the values for summer 2003 with 62 summer days and 19 hot days were in some cases significantly exceeded. In Leipzig , where 7 to 8 hot days over 30 degrees are expected in a normal year, there were 36 such days.
In large parts of Germany, as of mid-October, there was extreme to exceptional drought in the deeper soil layers of up to 1.8 meters after there had been no extensive rainfalls since April. At this point in time, around 70% of the area of Germany was affected by extreme drought. This drought continued over the year. While the situation in the topsoil had normalized in many regions by the beginning of 2020, moderate to exceptional drought continued to prevail in deeper soil layers in large parts of Germany. In some regions, the precipitation deficit that accrued in 2018 and 2019 amounts to an entire annual precipitation.
Looking at the period from April 1 to September 30, 2018, a new record was set for the highest temperature average in each individual federal state and a new record for the longest sunshine duration in 15 of 16 federal states (only Schleswig-Holstein is an exception) set up. The exceptionally long sunshine continued into autumn. As early as mid-November 2018, some measuring stations recorded a longer duration of sunshine than had ever been measured before within a calendar year. The German Weather Service also states in its evaluations that such a large precipitation deficit has never been observed for the period April to July 2018 (−110 mm [= l / m²]).
In June 2018, the weather in Germany was not noticed by temperature extremes, but by extreme drought, which even exceeded that of the " summer of the century" of 2003 . Initially, Northern Germany (especially Berlin and Brandenburg ) was affected, where temperatures of up to 30 ° C were already measured in April. In southern Germany, thunderstorms brought local precipitation, but also numerous thunderstorms. At the end of June, meteorologists spoke of “catastrophic proportions”. In the period from April 1 to September 30, 2018, the federal average fell 263 liters of rain per m², a value that was only undercut in 1911 (249 liters per m²). In two federal states, a new record was set for the lowest amount of precipitation.
The Federal Office for Radiation Protection dismissed early August 2018 the need to be against high UV radiation to protect, and advocated the creation of shaded areas: addiction Anyone shadow, should be able to find some. June and July were around 2.5 degrees warmer than the long-term average, and July was also the second sunniest since measurements began. From late July to early August, the weather in Germany was determined by an unusually long heat wave. The weather stations in Frankfurt, Mannheim and Offenbach am Main measured 18 consecutive days with maximum values of more than 30 ° C.
At the end of May and beginning of June 2018 there were heavy floods in several regions of North Rhine-Westphalia. The damage was particularly high in Wuppertal . According to Germanwatch estimates, the total damage caused by the increasing effects of climate change in Germany amounted to around 32.2 billion euros in 2018 .
The Netherlands suffered from the worst drought since 1976 (as of mid-July 2018).
In Austria , according to the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, 2018 was 1.8 degrees Celsius above the long-term average, the hottest year since the beginning of records dating back 252 years, and the driest in many regions. The number of hours of sunshine throughout Austria was 11 percent above the long-term average, and there were a lot of meteorological summer days, sometimes twice as many as usual in a normal year. In Andau a new Austrian record was observed with 127 summer days.
At the end of July 2018, temperatures were around five to ten degrees above the typical values for the end of July / beginning of August (mean of the past 30 years). Almost all of the state capitals experienced the longest heat waves since weather records began. In Vienna , the 40th tropical night of the year was registered on the night of August 22nd , the record so far was 39 tropical nights in 2003. The summer half-year April to September 2018 was 2.6 degrees above the long-term mean and was the warmest since measurements began in 1767. Precipitation was 15 percent below the long-term mean, making it the driest summer since 2003. In many places, records were set for the number of summer days (day with a maximum of ≥ 25 degrees Celsius) broken.
In Austria there was a below-average amount of precipitation, in some regions up to 40 percent less rain fell than the long-term average. Some mountain lakes dried up, and in some places the drinking water supply was affected. Drought and heat had a negative impact on fish stocks in streams. Due to the low water level, many fish did not find any spawning grounds , and one hundred percent spawning failure was feared for brown trout in Upper Austria . In agriculture, harvest volumes were widespread and pests were able to spread more frequently. The forestry sector in particular suffered from a record bark beetle infestation . There were also major failures in root crops such as potatoes and sugar beets . Christmas tree farmers reported that young plants had dried up, which will be noticeable on the market in five to seven years from a low supply. In Salzburg there were several deaths among horses that, due to the drought, did not find enough grass in the pastures and therefore ate mountain maple seeds that were poisonous for them .
In Switzerland , the summer half of 2018 was the warmest since measurements began. In addition, Switzerland experienced the warmest meteorological period with a mean of 12.0 degrees (2003: 11.8 degrees) and the fourth driest meteorological period April – July since measurements began, with precipitation of 65 percent (1870: 46 percent) compared to the normal period 1981–2010 1864. In order to reduce the risk of forest fires , from the end of July 2018 there was an absolute ban on outdoor fires in many cantons of German-speaking Switzerland , with the result that August 1st - sparks and fireworks were dropped in many places. For example, the fire ban in the forests of the canton of Thurgau was in effect from July 30th to September 4th, 2018. Ozone pollution increased extremely during the hot days. On the night of October 23 to 24, 2018, temperatures of over 20 degrees were measured in some places. On October 24, 2018, Locarno-Monti recorded the latest hot day ever recorded at 30.5 degrees , aided by the persistent northern foehn . So far, this has been the case for September 25, 1983.
Only in the summers of 2003 and 2015 were even higher temperatures measured than in 2018. In many places, 2017 was already dry and hot; This is one of the reasons why the drought and heat of 2018 hit many trees particularly hard. Beeches in particular , but also elms , ash trees , alders and maples were affected. The WSL reported 110 problems related to drought and heat from 114 forest districts. The report on heat and drought in summer 2018 provides a detailed description of the climatic and hydrological development and describes the effects systematically. He cites the number of 177 additional deaths .
Forest and wildfires
The drought favored forest and field fires . There were 1708 forest fires across Germany in 2018, more than four times as many fires as in 2017; as many fires as there have not been since the hot summer of 2003. A total of 2349 hectares of forest burned; In 2017 it was less than 400 hectares. Compared to the equally hot summer of 2016, both the number of forest fires and the number of forest areas burned down doubled. The focus of the fire was East Germany and Brandenburg in particular , as it has many poorly water-storing sandy soils and pine forests that are particularly at risk of fire.
Since the fire brigades on site were often overwhelmed, there was sometimes administrative assistance from the Bundeswehr , the technical relief organization and the federal police , although the deployment times of these units were significantly longer than in previous years. In the Lieberoser Heide , a former military training area in Germany, over 400 hectares of forest were on fire. The fire brigade could not extinguish the fire because of suspected duds . At Trebbin , mechanical field work was secured with water tankers to extinguish possible sources of fire. There were also smaller forest and meadow fires throughout Germany. The drought also favored a large mire fire in the Wehrtechnischen Dienststelle 91 , which affected several square kilometers of moor for weeks.
The forest fires in Sweden in 2018 were the worst in more than 100 years. On July 22, 2018, more than 25,000 hectares of forest were in flames. The fire brigades cut aisles and specifically burned areas to steal the fuel from the fire . After Sweden asked for international help, teams, fire-fighting equipment, fire-fighting planes and fire-fighting helicopters from Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Austria, Poland and Portugal, among others, came to support. Sweden did not have any fire fighting planes to fight forest fires in July 2018 . Swedish authorities said it could take until early 2019 for all fires to be completely extinguished. As of July 20, 2018, the largest fire with an area of 8500 ha was in the municipality of Ljusdal . The front of that forest fire was 55 kilometers wide at that time.
In Southern Norway broke out in July, more than 350 forest and field fires within two weeks, which was noisy Norwegian Civil Defense Directorate, the highest ever recorded number of such fires. It had hardly rained since the beginning of May.
In August 2018, there were major forest fires near the Portuguese town of Monchique . More than 1,300 firefighters were on duty. The forest fire could only be brought under control by the fire brigade after a week. A total of 41 people were injured and around 27,000 hectares of forest were destroyed.
Flora and fauna
The drought leads to a decline in various insects, such as B. the mosquitoes . Birds therefore suffered from a lack of food in addition to the lack of water. Wasps that reproduced rapidly due to the heat were likely to have fewer insects to feed their larvae and were relatively small.
As in 2015 and 2017, a few specimens of Hyalomma marginatum and Hyalomma rufipes - two disease-transmitting tropical tick species , presumably introduced by migratory birds - were found in Germany. So far they have been found in Europe in Italy, France, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Spain, Portugal, Romania and Ukraine.
Large areas of young trees that were not yet able to develop deep roots also died in the forests. For Germany it was calculated that about 85% of the newly planted young trees dried up; Looking back, the German Forestry Council estimates the total number of dry young trees for 2018 to be around 500 million. Climate researchers also assumed that due to the severe drought, the forest could not have acted as a carbon sink as usual , i.e. had bound net carbon dioxide from the air, but instead became a carbon source, i.e. released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it absorbed. This had already happened in the summer of 2003, which was also very hot and dry. The Working Group of German Forest Owners' Associations (AGDW) put the damage in the forests at around 5.4 billion euros, caused by forest fires, dead young tree plantings and excessive pest infestation, e.g. B. by the bark beetle .
The hot, dry weather resulted in a mass appearance of bark beetle species, which led to wood damage on 11 million solid cubic meters of wood across Germany . In Saxony there was the largest plague of bark beetles since the Second World War . Prices for spruce fell by 50% due to the masses of affected trees . Emergency measures have been taken in various federal states. Due to the mild winter of 2018/2019, a strong bark beetle year is also expected for 2019, as many beetles have survived the winter and, among other things, there is plenty of dead wood available for reproduction after storms . In addition, many spruces are weakened by the drought of 2018, which has not yet been overcome, and can therefore only produce little resin with which they can defend themselves against bark beetles. In NRW , counts in an affected spruce stand revealed bark beetle values of an average of 15,000 beetles per tree, in addition to others in the soil. Healthy spruce trees that are well supplied with water can repel around 100 to 200 bark beetles through resin production . In 2018, however, spruce only managed to successfully control 1–2 beetles due to the severe water shortage. In July 2019, the AGDW estimated that it would cost 2.1 billion euros to remove the damaged wood that had been cut to a total of 70 million cubic meters for 2018 and 2019. In February 2020, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture put the forest area destroyed in the drought and hot years of 2018 and 2019 at 245,000 hectares; according to the same source, the amount of damaged wood was 160 million cubic meters. A further exacerbation of forest death is expected due to the persistent drought at the beginning of 2020 and the once again very good development conditions for bark beetles. At the beginning of June 2020, Germany's forests were still suffering from the drought stress that began with the drought that had persisted since 2018.
According to the Forest Condition Report 2020, the condition of German forests after the drought years 2018 and 2019 was worse than ever since these surveys began in 1984. According to this, 180,000 hectares of forest had completely died and, for the first time since the forest died out in the 1980s, large areas of spruce had died again . Many other trees also suffered from significant crown defoliation , including 50% of the oaks and 47% of the beeches. The jaw is also getting worse and worse. No improvement is expected for 2020 either, as the effects of droughts only show up with a time lag.
Phenologically there were also peculiarities. For example, the fall of leaves for many tree species was delayed in autumn, such as the English oak , which marks the phenological winter. The German Meteorological Service suspected that the drought had disrupted the trees' metabolic processes and that the cork layer between leaf and twig, which normally causes leaf fall , could not be formed properly. Scientifically, however, the phenomenon has not yet been clarified.
Many bodies of water carried little water for a long time. In 9 of the 15 largest rivers in Germany there was extremely low water for more than 100 days . The rivers most severely affected by the water shortage were the Elbe and Oder, which experienced extremely low water for 183 and 175 days respectively. In the Rhine and Danube there were 132 and 109 days respectively. In mid-October the water level of the Rhine at Emmerich am Rhein was just 26 cm; a new low that even broke the previous record set in 2003.
The low water had the effect that some rivers in Germany, such as the Oder, could be waded through in some places. On the Oder, at the relevant gauge Frankfurt 1 in August 2018, a new all-time low of 94 cm since the measurements began. The Danube also had historically low water on the weekend of August 12th: At the Pfelling measuring point in the Straubing-Bogen district ( Lower Bavaria ), only a level of 2.28 m (fairway depth 1.38 m) was measured, another two centimeters below Previous low on September 25, 1947. Some smaller rivers such as the Black Elster dried up completely due to the unusually hot and dry weather conditions.
Among other things, due to the high temperatures and low water levels, severe effects on the water ecology were feared. According to the Swiss Fisheries Association, heat-related fish deaths in the Rhine can hardly be averted. Environmental associations demanded that the introduction of warm industrial waste water should be temporarily prohibited in order to keep the environmental impact of the heat wave within limits.
The fill level of the Edersee fell to 10% of its maximum value by November 2018, and branches of the lake were completely dry. In addition, some ruins and foundations of buildings came to light that had been demolished when it was filled.
In addition, ammunition from the Second World War that was sunk by the low tide reappeared. More ammunition , grenades and mines were found in the Elbe and Rhine rivers . In Saxony-Anhalt, the Technical Police Office (TPA) issued a warning. On August 1st, 66 flak cartridges , which had been found in mid-July, were blown up in the Rhine near the Mainz winter port .
In Bochum's city pond, several hundred fish perished on July 29, 2018 due to a lack of oxygen . In Hamburg, five tons of dead fish were removed from water. Dead fish were discovered in numerous other bodies of water. Because of the high water temperatures, the cyanobacteria increased in the Unterbacher See near Düsseldorf , so that the lido north had to close on July 29, 2018. The Ironman Hamburg on July 29, 2018 was converted from a triathlon to a duathlon due to the cyanobacteria bloom in the Alster . At the beginning of August there was a fish death in the Aasee (Münster) . The blue-green algae have been fought there for years.
In Switzerland, the river beds near the Emme and Töss had dried out in places. The Lac des Brenets almost completely dried up and extremely low water levels were also measured at Lake Lucerne , Lake Zug and Lake Zurich . While the Aare in Bern recorded a record temperature, grayling and trout suffered, among other things, in the Rhine, which is around 27 degrees Celsius. In many places had to be fished; For example, around 40 bodies of water in the canton of Thurgau .
Due to the high temperatures and the low precipitation, the approx. 1500 glaciers in Switzerland melted significantly. According to the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences , they lost an estimated 1.4 billion cubic meters of ice year-on-year , which corresponds to around 2.5% of the total glacier mass. The fact that there had been very high snowfalls in some regions in winter 2017/2018 had a dampening effect, without which the snow loss would have been significantly greater.
In large parts of Central, Northern and Eastern Europe, the lack of rainfall in the spring and summer of 2018 led to significantly lower harvest volumes. As a result, the grain harvest (including grain maize) in the EU-28 fell by 8% compared to the five-year average to a volume of 284.3 million tons.
From a global perspective, almost 2.66 billion tons of grain were produced worldwide in the 2018/19 cultivation year, around 30 million tons less than was demanded, which led to the first global grain deficit since 2012/2013. However, the warehouses were still well filled from previous years, so that no grain shortage is expected.
In many places, premature slaughter of cattle and sheep due to insufficient feed has been reported.
World market prices for grain rose by around 20 percent for the 2018 European harvest compared to the relatively low level of the previous year. In the case of oilseeds (especially rapeseed in Europe), no drought-related price increases were noticeable due to the abundant global availability of soy and palm oil.
The regionally strongly fluctuating prices for roughage rose sharply. In many regions of Europe, reports have doubled compared to the previous year.
In the first three quarters of 2019, the number of farm insolvencies in Germany rose by 23.9% compared to the previous year. The reason for this is the drought of 2018, which had a delayed effect on the financial situation of the companies with lower income and higher costs.
The grape harvest began about three weeks earlier than usual. German winegrowers were expected to have a productive year with high quality grapes, as long as the intense sun did not damage the grapes through sunburn .
In Germany, drought-related yield losses in outdoor cultivation were recorded in all federal states.
The drought meant that many farmers had to harvest their grain much earlier due to strong signs of emergency ripening . The grain harvest (excluding grain maize ) fell by 19% to 34.5 million tons compared to the mean of the three previous years. The hectare yield of 60.2 quintals was 15.8% below the three-year average. For the first time since 1986, Germany became a net importer of grain. The harvest of grain maize (including CCM ) was 3.3 million tons, 25 percent below the three-year average. The yield losses in organic farming were estimated to be 10 percent across all types of grain, although this could be partially compensated for by increasing areas under cultivation.
Similar yield losses were also seen in other area crops such as B. Potatoes or rapeseed reported. Regionally, however, losses of 50 percent and more were also reported. In some places, fields were not harvested at all because the harvest costs would have exceeded the value of the harvest. In some cases, such as E.g. with potatoes in organic farming, the yields could even be increased by reducing disease pressure and intensifying irrigation.
The drought, which persisted after the main harvest until late autumn, also had an impact on the following year of cultivation. In Hesse, for example, the area under cultivation of rapeseed fell from 55,000 to 36,300 hectares for the 2018/19 cultivation year. A quarter of the harvest is expected for the 2019 harvest. As a result, a yield decline of 10 to 20% is expected for rapeseed honey as well.
The production volume of most animal foods could also be kept at the level of previous years in the following months. It is true that many farms, especially cattle and sheep farmers, were unable to create sufficient feed stocks from their own sources due to the low level of plant growth. However, this was largely compensated for by purchasing animal feed and using in-house reserves.
Lower harvest volumes could only be partially offset by higher market prices; many farms suffered financial losses, especially if they had fixed the selling price of their harvest in advance through preliminary contracts .
After the Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner announced financial aid from the federal government for existentially affected farms in the event that the official harvest report expected for the end of August 2018 shows damage of "national proportions", the responsible state ministries sent the federal government in mid-August estimated damage sums of over three billion euros . On August 22, 2018, Federal Minister Klöckner classified the extreme drought of 2018 as an extraordinary weather event of national proportions , in which the existence of around 10,000 companies was threatened with damage amounting to 680 million euros. As a result, the federal government and 14 federal states decided in an administrative agreement in October to provide half a total of up to 340 million euros for these companies. The payment of the aid was linked to extensive criteria and was not yet completed in April 2019.
|state||Reported damage in € million
(As of August 2018)
|Planned federal and state aid in €
(Federal and State; as of October 2018)
|Rhineland-Palatinate||180||(Criteria for federal aid not met)|
|Saarland||5.3||(Criteria for federal aid not met)|
In addition to this federal-state program, further support was promised, in particular to counteract the scarcity of roughage . The Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety also allowed non- organic roughage in organic agriculture . In many federal states, the mowing of ecological priority areas for fodder purposes was permitted. Bavaria provided 20 million euros as aid for the purchase of roughage.
The drought started a debate about the possible state support for agricultural multi-risk insurance , as the few available private-sector offers have so far hardly met with the farmers due to the high premiums.
At the beginning of August 2018, the Austrian hail insurance company estimated the nationwide damage to be 80 million euros for grain and 130 million euros for grassland. In October 2018, the amount of damage to grassland was estimated at 300 million euros.
Federal Minister Elisabeth Köstinger promised the livestock farms affected by the drought direct aid amounting to 20 million euros. A further 20 million euros have been pledged to increase the premium subsidy for natural hazard and animal failure insurance.
According to a report from Bio Suisse , an application for the use of roughage from non-organic conventional agriculture could also be submitted in Switzerland . This also applied to Demeter Switzerland from August to December 2018 . Never before have more feeding exceptions been made in Switzerland than in 2018.
Industry, commerce and transport
In addition to the aforementioned yield losses in agriculture , the hot and dry weather also had an impact on other branches of the economy.
In Germany and Switzerland, some power plants had to reduce their output because the cooling water that was fed into the already heated waters additionally heats them. This affected the Philippsburg , Grohnde and Brokdorf nuclear power plants as well as the Rheinhafen steam power plant in Karlsruhe . At the beginning of August, one of the two reactors at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant had to be completely taken off the grid. In Switzerland, the nuclear power plants in Beznau and Mühleberg cut their electricity production . Rivers (for example Elbe , Rhine , Oder and Danube ) carried so little water that shipping was restricted or stopped. Cargo ships could only be partially loaded. As of October 2018, shipping traffic on the Elbe between Magdeburg and Dresden had not been possible for months, on the Danube ships could practically only operate unloaded. There was a lot of cargo ship traffic on the Rhine because these ships could only be partially loaded. In some places the Rhine ferries no longer operate . River cruises had to be shortened, and planned stops at inaccessible landing stages had to be omitted.
Industrial companies such as BASF and ThyssenKrupp had to cut production as a result of the low water on the Rhine. Likewise, for example, had K + S production sites include temporarily because their sewage no longer in the Werra could be derived. Many petrol stations could also only be supplied with fuel with difficulty due to the transport bottlenecks on the inland waterways, which were made even more difficult by the failure of a refinery and in some cases could no longer offer the full range for a few hours. In addition, fuel prices rose in some cases by more than 20 cents / liter. On October 22nd, 30,000 cubic meters of diesel were released from compulsory storage in Switzerland , which corresponds to around 2.5 percent of the total diesel compulsory storage volume. On October 26, the German government also released the strategic oil reserve in order to remedy the shortage of crude oil in south-west Germany caused by the low water levels.
In Germany, the sun shone an average of 305 hours in July 2018 - 44 percent more than the long-term average. According to preliminary figures, photovoltaic systems in Germany produced around 6.7 to 6.8 TWh in July 2018, taking into account their own consumption. This is a new all-time record. A new photovoltaic output record was set at the beginning of July with 29.1 GW (equivalent to around 25 nuclear power plants).
In Switzerland, the Rhaetian Railway announced at the end of July that it was painting its rails white so that they would deform less in the heat. In order to be able to better reach the ports in Basel even when the water is low, several sections of the shipping channel will be removed by around 25 cm between July 2018 and February 2019.
Heat waves are harmful to health and can lead to death, especially for the elderly and weak, as well as children. Matthias an der Heiden from the Robert Koch Institute estimates that the hot summer of 2018 caused roughly as many heat deaths as the heat wave in Europe in 2003 . Between 50,000 and 70,000 people across Europe died of the heat, including around 7,600 people in Germany.
One of the few positive effects of the drought is the fact that historical sites can be recognized from the air due to the contrasts of differently decaying vegetation ( aerial archeology ). Recordings were made of well-known sites to document their condition and location: for example, of the moated castle in Bauda , the historic garden of Gawthorpe Hall in the English county of Lancashire and the foundation walls of Tixall Hall in Staffordshire In addition, numerous new discoveries were made: for example in Saxony, Wales, Ireland and France. In addition, ammunition, everyday objects and shipwrecks came to light due to the low water level.
Relation to weather events in other regions
The forest fires caused by arson in Greece in 2018 , which got out of control east of Athens several times, were also favored by extreme weather as a result of climate change, according to Disaster Protection Minister Nikos Toskas. At least 96 people died, making the forest fire the worst of its kind in Europe since 1900, according to the Center for the Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The fire researcher Lindon Pronto, on the other hand, sees the weather conditions that favor the fire as not unusual: "[...] in Greece you have to reckon with it every year." The main factor was the wind. Only the forest fires in northern and central Europe were unusual in their number and danger.
In addition to Europe, other continents were also marked by considerable weather extremes. This resulted in an unprecedented number of extreme floods, droughts, heat waves and fires in North America, Asia and, at the end of the year, in Australia .
The constant high pressure system over Eastern Europe repeatedly diverted the low pressure areas coming from the Atlantic to southwest Europe, where they became so-called cut-off lows over the Mediterranean . These developed strong momentum in autumn and were able to carry large amounts of moisture with them from the still warm seawater, which led to the storms in the Alps-Adriatic region at the end of October .
Connection with climate change
Many climate researchers such as Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute , Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford , Mojib Latif , Stefan Rahmstorf , Michael E. Mann and Judah Cohen from MIT see a connection between man-made climate change and the development of such stable weather conditions the jet stream will weaken due to the increased warming of the Arctic . Depending on how exactly the jet stream weakens and where it comes to a halt, there will be a very sunny or a very wet summer. The heat of 2018 and the rain and flooding of the wet summer of 2017 are "two sides of the same coin".
The 2015 heatwave was analyzed in a study published in 2016 . The authors find that the probability of heat waves in Europe is increased by the unusually cold surface water of the Atlantic south of Greenland , which, among other things, makes it more difficult to shift the jet stream. The cooling of the Atlantic surface water in this region is in turn a consequence of the weakening Gulf Stream .
A study published in Earth's Future in 2019 came to the conclusion that the heat events that occurred in the northern hemisphere in 2018 would with a probability bordering on certainty (i.e. 99-100% certainty) would not have occurred without man-made climate change. In addition, the researchers noted that events such as the drought and heat extremes that lasted between May and July 2018 had not occurred before 2010.
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