GERMANY IS LocATED in Central Europe, and in recent years has emerged as a leader in the fight to combat global warming. A modern nation of 82.4 million people, with a stable and diversified economy, Germany has a highly developed industrial, commercial, and agricultural infrastructure, all of which will face challenges as the climate begins to change. Like the rest of Europe, Germany expects to see more extremes in its weather patterns, with milder, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers. Steady distribution of rainfall throughout the year will likely give way to long dry periods, punctuated by sudden, heavy downpours. Most models project an average temperature increase of 0.18-0.81 degrees F (0.10.45 degrees C) per decade, and an increase in precipitation increase of 5-10 percent by 2050.

Agriculture will at first benefit from higher atmospheric concentrations of CO2, and researchers do not expect any problem with crop yields in the foreseeable future, except in eastern Germany, where the sandy soil is more vulnerable to precipitation shifts. Forests, which cover a third of the country, may also fare well under rising temperatures. There is some concern, however, that precipitation extremes could stress the forest ecosystem and new insects and diseases could move as their ranges expand. Prolonged dry spells could also increase the risk of forest fires. Models predict a negligible sea level rise of0.03-.034 in. (0.09-0.88 cm.) over the next century. Since Germany currently builds coastal structures based on an assumption of a 10-12 in. (25-30 cm.) rise over a century, this modest rise will pose no real problem. The government is planning on continuing to enhance sea walls and other defenses to protect against higher storm surges.

More intense storms could also lead to increased incidence of hail, wind, and flooding rains, putting infrastructure at some risk for damage or destruction. Shipping and air transport could also be affected by more frequent or heavier storms. While the popular summer resorts along the Baltic Sea are likely to benefit from warmer summers, the ski industry will sustain losses from warmer winters and reduced snow packs. The nation's water supply is not believed to be at risk, and there is little fear of new diseases moving into the region; in this respect, Germany will fare better than many other parts of the planet. Germany has taken a number of affirmative steps to mitigate carbon emissions and develop sustainable and renewable resources.

SEE ALSo: Agriculture; European Union; Forests.

BIBLioGRAPHY. William R. Cline, Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country (Peterson Institute, 2007) Paul G. Harris, Europe and Global Climate Change (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007)

Heather K. Michon Independent Scholar

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Renewable Energy 101

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