Climate Change Effects Strike Again: Low Rhine Levels Affecting Shipping


The climate and overall weather conditions have always affected shipping since the dawn of commerce. However, with the Earth’s climate changing on a broader and lasting scale, climate disruptions are becoming more frequent and more severe.

Now, water levels on the Rhine River in Germany are once again at low levels, and it’s affecting shipping.

Unusually dry weather in Europe has brought about low water levels on Germany’s Rhine River. As a result, shipping has been affected with the potential for further disruptions.

Some cargo ships are unable to carry their full cargo loads, which is resulting in surcharges being assessed to certain shipments, according to market analysts familiar with the charges, first reported by Reuters.

Where are the low water levels disrupting shipping the most?

The low water levels are mostly affecting shipping south of the areas of Cologne and Duisburg. Some rain is forecast to fall this weekend, which might help water levels recover and resolve the issue, for now. However, dry weather patterns are being prolonged as a result of climate change in areas that normally receive rain, and it is costing shippers.

Goods that are typically shipped on the Rhine include coal and oil, minerals, and grains, among others. Back in 2019, low water levels in June also affected shipping on the Rhine, and last year, a similar trend was seen, with record-low water levels.

Climate change is not likely to improve in the short-term, so climate-related disruptions are only going to worsen.

We’ve seen natural disasters increase in recent years, which include hurricanes, droughts, flooding, and more. These disasters compound periods of abnormal rainfall such as that that is occurring on the Rhine River right now.

We will keep you posted on further developments if the situation does not improve.