iconic Rhine river is at a record low bringing businesses and boats
to a standstill
drought have left Germany’s Rhine river at a record low, dealing a
blow to the economy and exposing relics from the past
Rhine river is at record low level in Cologne, Germany. Months of
drought have exposed a World War II bomb and forced ship operators to
halt services to prevent vessels from running aground. Picture:
docks are eerily quiet at Cologne’s main port on the mighty River
Rhine, with hundreds of containers piled up and awaiting their
journey north on one of Europe’s busiest commercial arteries.
of scarce rainfall and hot sunny weather drove water levels on the
Rhine to a record low, forcing ship operators to suspend services to
keep vessels from running aground.
haven’t had any new ships in Cologne since last week — they stop
in Duisburg” 80 kilometres north, Oliver Grossmann, head of
shipping company CTS, told AFP.
river bed of the Rhine is dried in Dusseldorf, western Germany, as
the heatwave goes on. Picture: Patrik Stollarz/AFPSource:AFP
said that under normal conditions, “three or four” of his big
vessels would stop each day in the city known for its Gothic
few barges still chugging along the river have had to drastically
reduce their cargo to stay afloat.
in his office overlooking the mountain of containers, Grossman said
rail links can only fill part of the gap as long as river transport
is paralysed because of a lack of infrastructure and train engineers.
the entrance to the port of Duisburg, a small tower houses a Rhine
measuring station. On its roof are two LED panels reading 5.09 feet.
is the lowest level ever measured here,” said Jan Boehme, a
hydrologist with the Water and Shipping Authority.
Rhine river is at record low level, in Cologne, Germany, jeopardising
shipping and exposing WWII relics. Picture: Patrik
temperatures throughout the summer and only rare rainfall have
transformed Germany’s waterways and created a crisis unseen since
the start of record keeping in 1881.
previous low water record set in Cologne in 2003 of 81 centimetres
was shattered last Friday when the level dipped to just 77
centimetres, the water authorities said.
along the Rhine, the situation looks similarly dire.
July, the water levels have been lower than we normally see in this
season,” Mr Boehme said, noting that in October it usually
fluctuates between three and four metres.
the link is not proven beyond a doubt, German authorities say the
extreme dry weather matches the models of climate change drawn up by
Rhine is hardly the only major waterway affected, with levels on the
Elbe leading to Hamburg also dangerously low.
drought phase is exceptionally long,” Mr Boehme said.
water levels to rise again we would need a lot of rain — a little
shower won’t do it. We need extended, intense, widespread
Rhine river, one of Germany’s most vital waterways, is at record
low due to drought. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
drying-up of large swathes of the Rhine marks a heavy blow to the
2017, 186 million tonnes of goods were transported between Basel in
Switzerland and the German-Dutch border — amounting to around half
of European river shipping, according to the Strasbourg-based Central
Commission for Navigation on the Rhine.
since the dry spell began, industrial giant Thyssenkrupp has had to
cut back production at its Duisburg plant “because a sufficient
supply of raw material cannot be assured”, a company spokesman
giant BASF said it had “adapted” production due to “limited
deliveries” to its Ludwigshafen factory, also on the Rhine.
dried out Rhine river bank in front of Cologne's Dome. Picture:
group RWE is struggling to supply its Hamm power plant with coal.
Meanwhile in Cologne, despite mild autumn weather, services on
tourist boats and ferries has ground to a near standstill.
sinking of water levels has dramatically altered a picturesque
stretch of the German landscape, exposing all manner of wrecks and
detritus on the banks and under bridges.
and long-submerged bicycles have resurfaced by the hundreds. More
threateningly, a 50-kilo World War II bomb emerged in the dried-out
riverbed and had to be gingerly defused.