Consequences of climate change in Germany – these cities are flooded at 1.5 degrees

One consequence of climate change is the rise in sea levels. An interactive graph shows which cities in Germany are particularly affected.

Dortmund – “Climate change is the crisis of our lives, if we don’t solve it, we will perish,” said United Nations chief António Guterres at the start of the 2022 World Climate Conference (COP27). German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also warned that humanity is heading for an abyss if it does not finally manage to address the issue of climate protection.

Global warming is heading towards 1.5 degrees – climate change is also having an impact in Germany

Even though climate change is now evident in many countries through droughts or floods and other extreme weather events, global warming is still an abstract, elusive subject for many people.

Time is running out to achieve the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees agreed at the 2015 World Climate Conference. Because even if the current energy crisis, the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the corona pandemic did not cause enough problems, in the long term climate change is the most existential crisis for humanity.

1.5 degrees global warming is unstoppable – 3 degrees “would be a disaster”

However, the opinion of many experts, including that of the German climate researcher Mojib Latif, looks gloomy: With the current ambitions, the 1.5 degree target can no longer be achieved. “If you look at what politicians are doing around the world right now, we’re more on the three-degree track,” says Latif. And according to the scientist that would be a disaster, wouldn’t it? NV reported.

But if, according to the experts, the 1.5 degree target cannot or hardly be achieved, you must now bear the consequences. RUHR24 therefore wondered what it would mean concretely for Germany if global warming were to move towards 1.5 degrees.

Climate change with consequences: sea levels are rising – also in Germany

An important consequence of climate change – in addition to periods of heat and drought or extreme weather conditions – is the rise in sea levels. Why? As the atmosphere warms, glaciers and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are melting. That means more water is flowing into the oceans.

A second aspect is thermal rise. Briefly explained: not only the atmosphere is heating up, but also the water. And warmer water has a larger volume, which also causes sea levels to rise.

The explanation has been reduced to the essentials and sea level rise is a complex system that is also influenced by other factors. However, the report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly shows that climate change is causing the water levels in the oceans to rise and that the rise in greenhouse gas emissions from humans is accelerating.

Graphic shows: Consequences of sea level rise in Germany with global warming of 1.5 degrees

What is deadly: even if effective climate protection measures were taken worldwide now, according to Greenpeace, the rise in sea levels will not be able to be stopped for the time being. However, it could be limited in how much it increases by the year 2100. Because current projections assume that global water levels will rise at least until now.

The American organization Climate Central evaluates data on this and prepares it in appropriate graphs. An animated graph shows the increase at 1.5 degrees and at 3 degrees of global warming in the future – also in Germany.

Germany is feeling the effects of climate change: these cities would flood at 1.5 degrees

In the animation, the temperature rise can be set individually. The controller starts at a global warming of 1.5 degrees – 5 degrees can be set as the maximum value. On a map you can see how the rise in sea level affects this. Corresponding areas are colored red. Another interactive map shows how sea levels change over time.

An interactive graph from Climate Central shows the consequences of sea level rise in Germany.

© Climate plant

With a global warming of 1.5 degrees, it is clear that many German regions will then be partially submerged or flooded. The time chart also shows that some cities in northern Germany in particular will experience rising sea levels as early as 2030.

Climate change in Germany – 1 million people affected by sea level rise

If you look at the coastal region in Germany – especially the north and northwest – it looks devastating. According to Climate Central’s evaluations, the Weser and the Elbe will gradually burst their banks if the earth warms up by 1.5 degrees – and eventually flood the cities of Bremen and Hamburg. In particular, the neighborhoods on the water, such as Hafencity and Speicherstadt in Hamburg or residential areas around the canal in Bremen would then be heavily flooded.

But the North Sea islands, the tourist destinations Sankt Peter-Ording, Büsum and Husum and the cities of Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven would also suffer significantly from the sea level rise. In Climate Central’s animated image, they are colored red for a global warming of 1.5 degrees – meaning: sea levels are reaching this point.

Cities are taking action on climate change, but it won’t take long

Karen Wiltshire, deputy director of the Alfred Wegener Institute at the Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, did the math Focus suggested that four percent of Germany’s state territory would be endangered by the rise in sea levels. It would be dangerous for a million people in the next 100 years.

The affected regions are already aware of the situation and preparations are being made to combat the consequences of climate change: for example, there are climate dikes for Bremerhaven and lock gates in Hamburg. However, according to Wiltshire, these measures will not last forever and will reach their capacity limits. The dikes are only designed to last 100 years, but they cannot go any higher, otherwise they will become too heavy and sink again.

For example, the expert notes: The cities mentioned will have major problems and it may happen that at some point entire places have to be abandoned. But at least it will take a while, according to her estimation. However, the interactive chart and the experts’ assessment clearly show that it is high time to think about tomorrow and do something to limit global warming.

Category list: © Future Image/Imago, Screening Tool/Climate Central, collage: RUHR24

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