Extreme weather in Germany on the rise
Water shortages, heavy rainfall and erosion as well as fallen trees will continue to hinder the operation of golf courses in Germany, possibly even to an increased extent. Climate change is altering the intensity and frequency of weather extremes in Germany, as clearly documented by recent research findings from the German Weather Service (DWD) at the 13th Extreme Weather Congress in Hamburg on September 27, 2023. “We need to better prepare for the catastrophic consequences of extreme weather such as droughts, forest fires, floods – which sometimes occur in combination,” says Tobias Fuchs, DWD’s climate and environment director.
The results presented in the DWD’s annual fact paper (“What we know today about extreme weather in Germany”) paint an alarming picture in terms of extreme weather in Germany. The annual mean temperature here has risen by about 1.7 degrees Celsius since DWD measurements began in 1881, which is significantly higher than the global average of about 1.1 degrees Celsius.
In the research report, a clear trend emerges in the statistics on heat extremes and heat waves. The number of hot days with a maximum temperature of at least 30 degrees Celsius has tripled since the 1950s and currently averages nine days. Many regions are experiencing a massive accumulation of heat waves. The DWD projects that if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, there will be a significant increase in hot days from 2031-2060. In southern Germany, there were considerably more (ten to 20 more hot days) than in northern Germany (five to ten).
Increased heat stress in cities is another finding from DWD research. In 2023, Germany also recorded the fifth warmest summer in DWD records. Nine of the ten warmest years since 1881 occurred since 2000.
With the springs and summers becoming drier and drier, the issue of drought is also coming to the forefront of reports. Due to the high temperatures in the summer half-year with simultaneously decreasing precipitation, plants start evaporation earlier on the one hand. This means that soils dry out faster in the spring and more in the summer.
This is also confirmed by the DWD figures from the period of the last ten to 15 years. Thus, 2022 with low soil moisture (for 0 – 60 cm below grass) indicates that the record low soil moisture year of 2018 was not so unique after all, and similar droughts are likely to occur more regularly now.
In Germany, severe thunderstorms with squalls, hail and extreme precipitation are almost part of everyday life. In view of the increasing number of floods, it is hardly surprising that clear developments in the area of heavy rain (Level 3; severe weather for heavy or continuous rain by the DWD) are also observed here. Although there has been little change in the number of days with precipitation of 20 mm or more over the period 1951 to 2022 (3% increase). But for some regions, the figures indicate an increase in the frequency of heavy precipitation events, even though there is still a need for research in the area of heavy precipitation at the DWD and no conclusions can be drawn here at present about an increase in extreme events in connection with climate change due to a short time series.
According to the DWD, however, there is clear evidence of an increase in winter precipitation of 27% since 1881.
Percent. Warming seas and oceans and rising sea levels are creating an increased risk of increased storm surges, which could affect coastal regions in particular in the future.
Status quo and outlook
“According to the experts, 2023 represents the year when the development of extreme weather events has reached a level where there is no longer any possibility of denying climate change and human causes,” the press release for the 13th Extreme Weather Congress puts it. The scientists urge resolute climate protection as well as decisive action in the area of adaptation and the irreversible consequences of further global warming. In particular, an indirect effect on food security, drinking water availability and biodiversity is pointed out here.
According to the experts, the Paris framework agreement is considered a failure. Nevertheless, the DWD experts are trying to spread optimism. “We must not bury our heads in the sand. If we massively protect the climate now by transforming to climate neutrality, we can slow down global warming. In view of the recent catastrophes, we can see: Every tenth of a degree already counts,” says Fuchs.
More information at: www.dwd.de