The number of hot days per year with temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade has risen from 3 to 8 in Germany. Longer heat waves can have various impacts. In the summer of 2003, for instance, more than 30 nuclear power plants in Europe had to cut back their electricity production because of a shortage in cooling water due to extended drought. Rising temperatures also lead to higher health risks as hot weather can be a major cause for stress in the human body. In certain regions in the South of Germany new thermophilic species such as the Asian tiger mosquito are spreading which can transmit severe diseases, including malaria or dengue fever. In the agricultural sector drought stress or extreme weather events such as storms, heavy rainfall or hail storms lead to quality fluctuations and lower yields. By describing these and similar details, the Federal Government's first monitoring report on adaptation to climate change draws a clear picture of climate change impacts in Germany and outlines the current state of adaptation strategies.
Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks pointed out: "The report very clearly indicates that climate change is happening in Germany and that it has a bearing on many aspects of our daily life. Therefore climate change concerns us all. The report highlights the areas which require our special attention. The federal government can then address climate change better and take action in a more targeted manner in places where the impacts of climate change are most severely felt, as for instance in cities. For instance, we are well on our way to developing a heat warning system."
The President of the Federal Environment Agency added: "We are no longer able to stop the climate from changing. Even if we were to cut all greenhouse gas emissions immediately, the climate would continue to change for hundreds of years. However, efforts in suitably adapting to the impacts of climate change must not be limited to German territory. Developing countries are increasingly and often most severely hit by extreme weather events and deteriorating farming conditions. Germany has to support these countries in their adaptation efforts."
There are a number of proven measures to address changing weather patterns. The establishment of a heat warning system now makes it easier for health care facilities to prepare for longer heat periods. In agriculture new more drought resistant varieties are being tested. In many cities and communities public investments in flood control measures will improve protection from flooding. Major challenges exist in particular in urban and traffic planning, coastal protection and the monitoring of invasive thermophilic fauna and flora.
Further information and links
The current monitoring report was adopted by the interministerial work-ing party on adaptation strategies which brings together the responsible federal ministries. It is part of the progress report on the German adaptation strategy to climate change (DAS), which was commissioned by the Federal Government following a cabinet decision in December 2008. The current report was compiled by the "competence centre on climate impacts and adaptation (KomPass)" at the Federal Environment Agency in cooperation with experts from federal and Länder levels, the scientific community and industry. The complete progress report will be published at the end of 2015.
In future the monitoring report will be published at regular intervals to take a look at developments in the 15 fields of action of the German adaptation strategy to climate change. Based on the data measured, it will be possible to trace trends in climate change impacts and the progress made in adaptation. This can also be used for evaluation and to develop the German strategy on adaptation to climate change.