Germany is experiencing a difficult flooding situation, particularly acute in Lower Saxony. Last week’s heavy downpours led to severe flooding, and meteorological forecasts predict more rain. We examine the effects of this year’s flooding in Germany.
During the Christmas holidays, heavy rainfall contributed to the flooding of rivers in various regions of Germany, with the greatest intensity in Lower Saxony. The three German states are the hardest hit. On Saturday, December 30, the situation in Meppen, on the Ems and Hase rivers, was particularly difficult and involved the need to evacuate the population and help those trapped.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz personally visited the flooded areas, highlighting the difficult situation in the northern part of the country. He noted an improvement in southern Lower Saxony, but northern areas are still at risk. The state’s prime minister, Stephan Weil, points to the unprecedented scale of the problem, which he links to climate change.
Flooding in Germany vs. current weather forecasts
Floodwater continues to threaten the region, with danger especially along the Aller, Leine and Oker rivers. Local authorities report unrelenting threats, and synopticians predict a continuation of heavy rainfall, especially in northeastern Germany. Heavy precipitation in the coming days is forecast to worsen an already bad situation. The Federal Police and other emergency services are actively involved – using helicopters to transport sandbags to reinforce the floodwalls. Meanwhile, local authorities are calling for avoiding “flood tourism,” which hinders rescue work.
Climate change affects flooding in Germany
The flooding in Germany is a catastrophe on a massive scale, with the evacuation of thousands of people and costly damage to infrastructure. The situation is part of a broader context in Europe. Reports from France, which is currently on a high flood alert, are also alarming. In the case of the December 2023 floods in Germany, rainfall of up to a dozen liters per square meter occurred in just a few hours. Such rains are extremely rare in winter in the region.
Recent floods have been most severe in northern and western Germany, including North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria. The worst damage was reported in cities and towns along the Ems, Hase, Elbe and Weser rivers, as hundreds of homes and public buildings were under water, but also roads, farmland and forests. The floodwalls have also not survived, having been destroyed or severely weakened in many places. Scientists agree that the floods in Germany are further evidence of the impact of climate change on Europe. According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), the likelihood of extreme precipitation events in Europe has increased significantly over the past 50 years.
The response of the authorities – a state of natural disaster
The flood situation in Germany is dynamic and requires constant monitoring and intervention. This indicates the need to further adapt emergency management strategies and infrastructure to changing climatic conditions. All the more so because in some areas water levels are still above alert levels. The German Meteorological Service (DWD) has issued a warning of further heavy rainfall, which will continue to raise water levels in rivers.
According to DWD meteorologists, the Ems and Hase rivers in Lower Saxony will pose the greatest flood risk in the coming days. Significantly, further rainfall of up to 100 liters per square meter is forecast in these regions, so evacuations of residents have been announced in the most vulnerable areas. German authorities have taken appropriate action and announced assistance to all those affected. In addition, the federal government has declared a state of calamity in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia, which will allow additional funds to be allocated to help flood victims.
Flooding in Germany in December 2023. and January 2024. is another example of how climate change could have serious consequences for Europe. German authorities have already said they plan to strengthen flood control infrastructure and take adaptive measures in the face of future threats. This is likely to include the reconstruction and construction of dikes, but also the rehabilitation of wetlands.