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Germany

German temperature gains outpace expectations

The average temperature in Germany is rising faster than scientists expected. Big cities will have to prepare for the most dramatic increases, according to a report from the German weather service.

Kids playing on the beach

Germans are enjoying the sun now, but scientists worry the heat could become oppressive

Though complaints about the weather are common in Germany, there is less and less for people to be griping about - at least until sea levels start rising and other consequences of climate change become noticeable by the public, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

Last summer was warmer and the sun shone on more days than the annual average, the organization announced Tuesday. At 9.2 degrees Celsius (48.6 degrees F), the average temperature was also well above the average of 8.3 degrees C.

The DWD called the increase in average temperature a clear indication of climate change.

"Climate change has clearly sped up in the past two decades," DWD President Wolfgang Kusch said, adding that six of the 10 hottest years since 1890 occurred in the last decade.

Kusch said the trend to higher average temperatures seemed to be continuing with April 2009 likely to go down in history as the hottest April since 1820.

Cities need more parks

Hazel buds in a Frankfurt park

Trees and plants are blooming earlier than in the past, the DWD said

The number of days in 2008 with temperatures above 30 degrees C has more than doubled since 1950 in some parts of Germany, the DWD said.

After analyzing the statistical data, Kusch said it was "very questionable" whether the planet would be able to limit an overall temperature increase to the 2 degrees Celsius climate researchers have said the Earth would be able to bear.

Major cities will likely suffer from higher temperatures most, said DWD statistician Paul Becker.

"City planners have to start factoring in the future effects of climate change," he said. "Every sixth day in Frankfurt could be warmer than 25 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century."

The combined size of parks should be equivalent to one fourth of the city's size, Becker recommended.

Sea levels also rising

A girl sits on a float in water

Rising water levels threaten coastal cities around the world

The failure to limit emissions of carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases is a key reason for the rise in temperatures, the DWD said in a statement.

"Global emissions should have been falling for years," Kusch said. "But the opposite has been the case."

In addition to higher temperatures, sea levels are also rising faster than expected, the DWD said. Water levels went up by an overall anual average of 1.8 millimeters from 1961 to 2003. The largest gains, however, came between 1993 and 2003 when sea levels increased by 3.3 millimeters per year.

"That's 10 times the average of the last 6,000 years," Kusch said.

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