Climate change not only involves rising temperatures – it also causes changes in the hydrological balance. Precipitation, evaporation and groundwater formation will follow a new rhythm in future. The consequences of these changes for water levels, ecosystems and sectors that depend on water, like agriculture, are presented in a new report by researchers from the Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS). The authors include Stefan Hagemann from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg.
People still have very vivid memories of the record-breaking summer of 2003: During a heat wave in the first half of August, temperatures in some locations in Germany exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, and many people suffered from the effects of the extreme heat. Because little rain had fallen over the course of the year, the water levels in rivers and reservoirs fell in late summer, drastically in some cases. Shipping had to be halted on some sections of the rivers Elbe and Danube. Nuclear power plants reduced their output because they had insufficient cooling water available to them. Plants withered in the fields and the risk of forest fires increased.