Monitoring Report 2019

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Climate change in Germany: monitoring report shows far-reaching consequences
The consequences of global warming are becoming more and more noticeable in Germany and can be proven more and more clearly.

This is shown by the second monitoring report of the Federal Government, which has now also been published in English. According to the report, the average air temperature in Germany increased by 1.5 degrees between 1881 and 2018. In the last five years alone, it has risen by 0.3 degrees. Among other things, this has resulted in more health risks due to heat stress, a rise in the average surface temperature of the North Sea and greater fluctuations in agricultural yields.

The message of the monitoring report is that the future has already reached us. Germany is in the midst of global warming, with far-reaching consequences for the environment, society and health. Urgent action must be taken to counter these consequences. At the publication of the report in November 2019, Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said: "The consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent. The increase in the average temperature in Germany by 0.3 degrees in just five years is alarming. We can only counteract this with preventive climate protection and consistent adaptation to climate change. This means, for example, that all construction and infrastructure projects must be better prepared for adverse effects from heat, heavy rain or flooding. This also applies to the design of urban residential areas. Green roofs and building facades, water surfaces and shaded areas alleviate heat and improve rainwater retention. They also improve air quality. Such sustainable climate adaptation not only makes our infrastructure more robust, it also secures Germany as a business location and adds value to our quality of life".

The increase in mean temperature is also associated with a higher number of "hot days" - these are days when temperatures rise above 30°C. Since 1951, this has risen from about three to currently about ten days per year. This also affects people, especially in the cities. For the first time, the Monitoring Report 2019 contains nationwide statements on heat-related deaths: According to the report, 7,500 more people died in 2003 than would have been expected without the heatwave. In 2006 and 2015 there were 6,000 additional deaths each year.

Water availability: In the last ten years, low groundwater levels have become increasingly common, and in some communities this has already led to problems with the drinking water supply. Increasing drought and more frequent low water levels in rivers are affecting ecosystems, leading to restricted shipping and endangering the supply of cooling water to power plants and industry.

Agriculture and forestry are also affected: over the last 50 years, the available water in agriculturally used soils has decreased significantly. In 2018, heat and drought caused damage to agriculture amounting to 700 million euros. Seasons and vegetation periods are shifting - the length of the growing season rose from 222 days (1951-1981) to 232 days (1988-2017). Animal and plant species from warmer regions of the earth are spreading, including for example the sardine or anchovy in the North Sea or the Asian tiger mosquito on land. This can spread diseases such as Chikungaya or Dengue fever, which have not previously occurred in Germany.

The consequences of global warming also affect the economy, as it is dependent on functioning roads, ports or waterways. These infrastructures are damaged above all by extreme weather events such as storms and heavy rain. In 2018, for example, insurance claims on houses, motor vehicles, household goods, commerce, industry and agriculture will amount to around 3.1 billion euros. According to the insurance industry, 2018 was one of the four most severe storm years in the last 20 years.

Further Information

The 2019 monitoring report does not yet systematically include the data from 2018 and 2019, as the preparation of statistically sound, nationwide data requires a time delay. The aim of ongoing monitoring within the framework of the German Adaptation Strategy is not so much to present current developments as to systematically observe climate impacts and adaptation on the basis of statistically sound time series. Where possible, however, the report texts provide an initial assessment of developments in 2018/19.
The current report was prepared by UBA's "Competence Centre on Climate Impacts and Adaptation (⁠KomPass⁠)" together with nearly 200 persons from 30 federal and Länder authorities, several universities, and professional associations.