Photos Reveal Just How Dire Things Are for Germany's Rhine River

Photos Reveal Just How Dire Things Are for Germany's Rhine River

Barges are moving through the river at much lower capacity in order to make it through shallow waters.

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Cargo ships travel on the Rhine River on August 10, 2022 near Bonn, Germany. The ongoing hot weather and lack of rain have caused water levels on the Rhine to fall, which is complicating shipping.
Cargo ships travel on the Rhine River on August 10, 2022 near Bonn, Germany. The ongoing hot weather and lack of rain have caused water levels on the Rhine to fall, which is complicating shipping.
Photo: Andreas Rentz (Getty Images)

A record-breaking hot, dry summer in Europe has lowered the Rhine River’s water levels so much that it has threatened shipping in the region.

The Rhine is a critical commercial corridor. The river connects mega-ports in Germany’s industrial area, transporting goods to nearby landlocked countries. But the levels are so low, it’s going to be difficult to transfer shipments of energy supplies like coal and chemicals that are needed for power plants and factories that dot the length of the river, Politico reports. A summer of widespread drought in Europe means barges cannot carry energy materials at full capacity, according to Bloomberg.

Shipments have been delayed and the cost of freight has skyrocketed, and German officials expect to see even lower water levels in the near future, Reuters reported. This is especially affecting energy now that fuel is going to become harder to move between countries, according to Bloomberg. This energy supply crisis, also driven by the war between Ukraine and Russia, will drive up energy prices for homeowners who may struggle to keep their homes warm this winter.

The situation on the Rhine is another reminder of what the new normal will be if we don’t stay under the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels.

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Landlocked ship

Landlocked ship

A ship lies dry between the groynes on the Rhine in August 2022.
A ship lies dry between the groynes on the Rhine in August 2022.
Photo: Federico Gambarini/picture-alliance/dpa (AP)
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Shallow depths

Shallow depths

A cargo ship travels on the Rhine River in August 2022 in Bonn, Germany.
A cargo ship travels on the Rhine River in August 2022 in Bonn, Germany.
Photo: Andreas Rentz (Getty Images)
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Dry land

Dry land

A ship sails past the dry groynes on the banks of the Rhine near Duesseldorf, Germany.
A ship sails past the dry groynes on the banks of the Rhine near Duesseldorf, Germany.
Photo: Federico Gambarini/picture-alliance/dpa (AP)
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Exposed shoreline

Exposed shoreline

A ship lies dry between the groynes on the Rhine in Germany on August 11, 2022.
A ship lies dry between the groynes on the Rhine in Germany on August 11, 2022.
Photo: Federico Gambarini/picture-alliance/dpa (AP)
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Dried river banks

Dried river banks

The Rhine ferry Michaela crosses the Rhine in August 2022, despite low water levels near Langst / Kaiserswerth.
The Rhine ferry Michaela crosses the Rhine in August 2022, despite low water levels near Langst / Kaiserswerth.
Photo: Malte Ossowski/SVEN SIMON/picture-alliance/dpa (AP)
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Heat wave

Heat wave

Dry soil of the partially dried-up river bed of the Rhine in Duesseldorf, Germany, in July 2022, as Europe experienced a heatwave.
Dry soil of the partially dried-up river bed of the Rhine in Duesseldorf, Germany, in July 2022, as Europe experienced a heatwave.
Photo: INA FASSBENDER/AFP (Getty Images)
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Historic hot summer

Historic hot summer

An inland vessel navigates on the Rhine as the partially dried-up river bed is seen in Duesseldorf, Germany, in late July as Europe experiences a heatwave.
An inland vessel navigates on the Rhine as the partially dried-up river bed is seen in Duesseldorf, Germany, in late July as Europe experiences a heatwave.
Photo: INA FASSBENDER/AFP (Getty Images)
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