A remarkably hot, dry summer has led to record low levels in German rivers, which are widely used for transporting freight. Then the weather remained unusually dry through most of the autumn. After months of insufficient rainfall, the situation on the upper Rhine is now so bad that it is severely disrupting parts of the country’s industry.
A number of companies — including chemicals manufacturer Covestro, fertilizer maker K+S and utility EnBW — have revised performance forecasts as a result of the logistical difficulties.
At Kaub, a traditional measuring point around halfway along the river’s course, the Rhine is currently just 1.44 meters (4.7 feet) deep. The average figure is 3.25 meters. “Heavy evaporation in the hot summer has made the current situation particularly serious,” says Paolo Reggiani, a professor of economic risk at the University of Siegen.
The Rhine is a crucial transportation artery for much of southern Germany, and traffic could be entirely cut off if levels continue to fall, warns Roberto Spranzi, head of the German Inland Navigation Association. Ships that do manage to get through are having to cut back on loads by as much as 85 percent.
Read more on Handelsblatt.