21 May 2019

00:00:00 (GMT+5)

Tashkent +30,9 °C

Global development
20 Jan  2019 619

Rhine is running dry

Europe's most important waterway, vital to moving coal, car parts, food and thousands of other goods, becomes lower year after year and soon can become  impassable.

The reason of lower Rhine water level is climate change - Bloomberg reports.

With its source high in the Swiss Alps, the Rhine snakes 800 miles through the industrial zones of Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. It serves as a key conduit for manufacturers such as Daimler AG, Robert Bosch GmbH and Bayer AG.

After hot summer traffic at one of the shallowest points on the Rhine ground to a halt for nearly a month late last year, resulting in slowing Germany’s economic growth as it has affected country’s industrial giants. Steelmaker Thyssenkrupp AG was forced to delay shipments to customers like automaker Volkswagen AG as it couldn’t get raw materials to a mill in Duisburg. Another industrial major BASF SE faced the 250 million euros ($285 million) bill for using more expensive transportation options.

  “We have already seen effects on national economic growth,” Bloomberg quotes Oliver Rakau, chief German economist at Oxford Economics. “The problem is related to global warming and can happen again.”

Rhine water level declines as alpine ice flows shrank as much as 35 percent between 1973 and now, according to Wilfried Hagg, glacier expert at Munich University.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

River's water scarcity does not only slow cargo activity, but also leads to the rise for natural gas prices, as it has already happen in November.

Even with Germany’s extensive road and train networks, the Rhine stays the major traffic way. Barges can carry more than five times their own weight, making them cheap to operate. Shipping from Rotterdam to Basel costs around 40 percent less than rail transport, according to the German Federal Institute of Hydrology.

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