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2018-11-04. The Rhine, a Lifeline of Germany, Is Crippled by Drought.

posted Nov 5, 2018, 8:14 AM by Alan Gould

By Christopher F. Schuetze, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/world/europe/rhine-drought-water-level.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: ...One of the longest dry spells on record has left parts of the Rhine at record-low levels for months, forcing freighters to reduce their cargo or stop plying the river altogether. ...Parts of the Danube and the Elbe — Germany’s other major rivers for transport — are also drying up. Some inland ports are idle, and it is estimated that millions of tons of goods are having to be transported by rail or road. ...With castles and vineyards dominating the river banks near Kaub, just five miles from the Lorelei rock, named for a siren who was said to lure sailors to their deaths, it would be easy to forget how important the area is to German commerce. It is roughly halfway between the inland ports of Koblenz and Mainz, and virtually all freight shipped from seaports in the Netherlands and Belgium to the industrial southwest of Germany passes through here. ...Gas stations in the region that rely on tankers to deliver fuel from refineries in the Netherlands have run out. ...Thousands of fish in the Swiss section of the river died because of the heat and low oxygen levels. ...A shipping company, Kübler Spedition, specializes in heavy and oversize freight that cannot be carried for more than a couple of miles on roads. Because ships carrying the heavy components of a wind farm can no longer reach the company’s terminal in Mannheim, Kübler’s storage area lies empty. “It’s effectively stopped the building of the wind farm entirely,” said Robert Mutlu, who runs the terminal. ...The Rhine’s flow relies not just on annual rainfall, but also on enormous long-term reserves of water in the Alps. Melting snow and glaciers, as well as Lake Constance, feed the upper parts of the river, but with climate change, those reserves are lower, Dr. Koch said....