Climate change has a direct impact on the intensity and frequency of heavy rainfall and heat waves. This is shown by the IPCC reports from 2021. This data story shows extreme weather events between 2000 and 2021 caused by high temperatures and precipitation. The data comes from the German Weather Service and a study on climate damage commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection.
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The three hottest summers in recorded history all occured after the year 2000. One of them was the heatwave summer of 2003. In that year alone, 9,355 people died in Germany as a result of the heat. Especially in weakened persons, high temperatures can cause lung failure and heart attacks.
On the map you can see comparatively mild temperatures at the beginning of summer on 01.06.2003. The hottest period was in early August. The previous German heat record was broken on 08.08.2013 with 40.3°C. Use the slider to view the temperatures on this day.
Besides heat waves, heavy rainfall events are also becoming more likely due to climate change. At the end of May and beginning of June 2013, days of rain caused flooding in Central Europe. Large parts of Germany were affected, especially areas along the Danube, Saale, Elbe and other rivers.
Environmentalists name dike construction, river straightening, soil sealing, and the loss of natural floodplains as causes of more severe flooding.
The months from April to July 2018 were hotter than at any time since weather records began. Combined with low rainfall, the high temperatures resulted in 89% of land in Germany being affected by drought by mid-August.
At the same time the first school strikes begin in Germany on Fridays. Inspired by the then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, they serve as a form of protest against a flawed climate policy.
On July 25, 2019, the highest temperature ever measured in Germany, 40.3°C, will be exceeded at several stations. In Lingen in Lower Saxony, 42.6°C is measured on this day. The second half of July brought an enormous heat wave that hit western Germany. Like the year before, there were severe droughts, also because the amount of precipitation fell well short of the target value.
A catastrophe that most people in Germany still remember were the flash floods in Ahrtal. Heavy rainfall on July 14, 2021, and July 15, 2021, caused the Ahr River to reach a record level of 5 meters. A gravel pit in Erftstadt Blessem collapsed as a result of the flooding of the Erft River, sweeping away numerous houses.
The total damage caused is estimated to over €40 million. 183 people died as a result of the disaster abd numerous villages in the Ahr valley were completely destroyed.
If climate change continues as before, it will cause more intense heatwaves and more severe flooding. On the one hand, this means enormous costs due to the destruction of infrastructure and the loss of harvests. On the other hand, extreme weather events repeatedly claim many lives, especially among vulnerable groups. In addition to better handling in disaster management, strong measures must be taken to minimize the rise in temperature.
Use the timeline below the map to view more events and related video reports.