Global water logistics disrupted by escalating extreme weather
Global water logistics disrupted by escalating extreme weather

This summer, the Northern Hemisphere faces a surge in extreme weather events, attributing to climate change, with Europe and the Americas bracing for record-breaking heat following last year's scorching temperatures.

Europe bears the brunt of extreme heat, impacting energy and transportation infrastructure, and straining essential resources like water.

The Mediterranean region, parts of Germany and the Balkans are experiencing soaring temperatures, which are adversely affecting water levels on critical rivers like the Rhine and Rhone.

The Rhine, a vital trade route for Europe, is experiencing depressed water levels, with the marker at Kaub dipping below 1 meter for the first time since March. The low water levels have made navigation challenging for barges, causing a significant rise in costs for transporting goods like diesel.

Maersk, a major maritime container company, has introduced surcharges for containers when the Rhine water level drops below specific thresholds, adding further pressure on supply chains and logistics.

Container xChange, a container logistics platform, noted that during last year's drought and heatwave, the Rhine's low water levels severely impacted German companies' production and supply chains, with vessels operating at only 25 percent of their capacity. This year, the situation is equally, if not more, demanding, as water levels remain lower than the previous year. Stakeholders are urged to collaborate and prepare for potential water scarcity impacts.

The warming of the Rhone River is compelling Electricite de France SA to limit nuclear reactor output to prevent environmental harm due to rising river temperatures.

In the Americas, the Panama Canal Authority is extending restrictions on ship depth due to an extended drought, limiting average crossings to 32 ships per day. Container capacity for some ships has been slashed by 40 percent, with UK-U.S. goods likely to face price increases.

As climate change intensifies, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, posing significant challenges to water logistics and trade worldwide. The increasing strain on vital waterways and infrastructure necessitates proactive collaboration and measures to mitigate the impact of ongoing water scarcity.

(Cover: Low water levels on the Chagres river near Gamboa, Panama, June 30, 2023. /CFP)

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