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‘This isn’t normal’: Germany braces for fourth heatwave of summer

Temperatures could exceed 38C in some parts of the Bundesrepublik this week during a record fourth summer heat wave.

'This isn't normal': Germany braces for fourth heatwave of summer
Children playing in the water in Munich's English Garden on Saturday.

On Thursday temperatures around Germany will spike to up 38C – reigning in the fourth heat wave of the summer. 

Due to climate change, says Latif, there is double the amount of Hitzewellen in Germany as in 1980. 

“That is not normal anymore,” said Mojib Latif, a climate researcher at the Helmholz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel, told the Augsburger Allgemeine. “It’s everything other than normal.”

A warm week ahead

In light of the rising temperatures, German Weather Service (DWD) has issued a “Warning Level II”, given whenever there is an extreme “heat stress load.”

Yet there will be large differences in temperatures within Germany. For the north and northeast, meteorologists are predicting temperatures will rise up to 26C, whereas they will likely rise to 33C in the rest of the country.

Tuesday will become even warmer, according to DWD, with the Mercury spiking to 36C in the southwest and 30C in the northeast, with only the coasts staying cool. At night, temperatures likely won’t fall below 20C in some places. 

DWD maps out the temperatures around Germany in the coming week.

There will be a similar picture on Wednesday, with a lot of sun and temperatures stretching between 30 and 36C in most of the country. In the west and southwest temperatures could go up to 38C. It will only remain cooler at the coats, where temperatures could rise up to 38C.

Thursday is likely to be the hottest day of the week, say meteorologists, with temperatures around the country rising to between 33 and 38C around the country, and potentially even hotter in some places. 

Staying cool amid the heat

In light of the heat wave, which according to current forecasts could last at least until the weekend following this one, it's important to drink a lot of water during the day and keep surroundings at a lower temperature.

SEE ALSO: Red Cross tells Germans to leave their fans on and windows open

“Keep your home cool, because a restful night's sleep helps to cope better with the heat of the day,” DWD recommends.

Even the three heat waves of the summer were an “unusually high number and some of them long lasting,” according to DWD. Altogether, this year saw the warmest and sunniest June since the beginning of area-wide measurements.

SEE ALSO: Germany records its hottest June temperature

The German heat record was set on August 5th, 2015, and most likely won’t be broken this week, said Latif. “But we’ll be coming very close to it.”

What explains the heat?

The Arctic and sub-Arctic are warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world, according to climate expert Latif

There are three reasons: First, the so-called climatic heat transport to the North Sea has become stronger. As a result, there is less ice that the sun can reflect, which also increases temperatures. “In addition, the amount of water vapour in the Arctic has increased,” said Latif.

The burden on the climate is also a consequence of the constantly growing number of people, he added. The world population has almost doubled in the last 50 years to 7.7 billion.


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UPDATE: Greta Thunberg joins German climate strikes before vote ‘of a century’

Tens of thousands of climate activists including Greta Thunberg descended on German cities Friday ahead of the weekend general election to crank up the pressure on the candidates to succeed Angela Merkel.

UPDATE: Greta Thunberg joins German climate strikes before vote 'of a century'
Greta Thunberg and other climate activists in Berlin on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Speaking at a rally in front of the Reichstag parliament building in the run-up to Sunday’s poll, Thunberg told cheering Fridays for Future youth supporters that they needed to hold Germany’s political leaders to account past election day.

“It is clearer than ever that no political party is doing close to enough… not even their proposed commitments are close to being in line with what would be needed to fulfil the Paris Agreement,” on curbing climate change, she said.

“Yes, we must vote, you must vote, but remember that voting only will not be enough. We must keep going into the streets.”

As Germany’s top parties hold final rallies ahead of Sunday’s vote, the Fridays for Future youth marches claim the political class has let down the younger generation.

“The political parties haven’t taken the climate catastrophe seriously enough,” Luisa Neubauer, who runs the group’s German chapter, said.

She said Germany, as one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, had an outsize responsibility to set an example, with time running out to reverse destructive trends.

“That is why we are calling this the election of a century,” she said.

The race has boiled down to a two-way contest between Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, the moderate finance minister, and Armin Laschet from Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats.

Polls give Scholz a small lead of about 26 percent over Laschet at around 22 percent, with the candidate from the ecologist Greens, Annalena Baerbock, trailing in the mid-teens.

Despite the urgency of the climate issue for a majority of Germans, particularly in the aftermath of deadly floods in the west of the country in July, this has failed to translate into strong support for the relatively inexperienced Baerbock.

She told Die Welt newspaper that she hoped Friday’s rally would give her party “tailwinds” heading into the vote. “The next government has to be a climate government – that will only work with a strong Green party.”   

More than 400 “climate strikes” are planned across Germany, with the Swedish Thunberg, who inspired the movement, expected to speak outside the Reichstag parliament building.

Thousands gathered on the lawn there from late morning bearing signs reading “Climate now, homework later”, “It’s our future” and simply “Vote”.

“Climate is an important issue and if this continues things are going to get worse and worse,” 14-year-old pupil Louise Herr told AFP.

Gathering under the banners “We are young and need the world!” and “Everything for the climate”, the activists are arguing that “climate crisis is this century’s biggest problem”.

READ ALSO: Climate change made German floods ‘more likely and more intense’

 ‘Unfair burden’

The activists will be part of a global climate strike in more than 1,000 communities around the world, Fridays for Future said.

Their central demand is to limit the warming of the Earth to maximum 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) as laid out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

The Paris agreement set a goal of reducing global warming by two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels with an aspiration to go further and cap the rise to 1.5 Celsius.

Despite Merkel’s vocal support of climate protection measures, Germany has repeatedly failed in recent years to meet its emission reduction targets under the pact.

In a landmark ruling in April, Germany’s constitutional court found the government’s plans to curb CO2 emissions “insufficient” to meet the targets of the Paris agreement and placed an “unfair burden” on future generations.

The Fridays for Future movement launched global school strikes more than two years ago arguing that time was running out to stop irreversible damage from the warming of the planet.

Demonstrators take to the streets in Berlin to call for urgent climate action. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Luca Bruno

In September 2019, it drew huge crowds in cities and towns around the world including 1.4 million protesters in Germany, according to organisers.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on its weekly rallies but the election campaign in Europe’s top economy has revitalised the

“The climate crisis cannot be solved through party politics alone,” Thunberg told reporters ahead of her appearance in Berlin.

“We can’t just vote for change, we also have to be active democratic citizens and go out on the streets and demand action.”


Greens as junior partner?

Around 60.4 million Germans are called to the polls on Sunday and most voters cite climate protection among their top priorities.

All three leading parties have said they aim to implement a climate protection agenda if elected, with the Greens presenting the most ambitious package of measures.

However the Fridays for Future activists have said even the Greens’ official programme falls short of what is needed to stick to the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature rise.

The Greens want to end coal energy use by 2030 instead of the current 2038. They also want the production of combustion engine cars to end from the same year.

While the party is expected to fall far short of its ambition to win the election Sunday and place Baerbock in the chancellery, polls indicate it has a good chance of joining a ruling coalition as a junior partner under Scholz or Laschet.

By Deborah Cole