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Germany has record year for summer sunshine

August 30, 2022

Germany has had its sunniest summer on record, according to the country's weather service. Temperatures and lack of rainfall in 2022 were also more extreme than usual, pointing to how summers might look in the future.

Sunflowers stand on a field near Frankfurt, Germany
Germany's summer in 2022 was hotter and sunnier than usualImage: Michael Probst/AP Photo/picture alliance

Germany's official weather service, the DWD, on Tuesday said it had recorded 817 hours of sunshine for 2022's summer period.

That figure — observed as some parts of the country suffer their driest summers ever  — represents a record since 1951, when monitoring periods of sunshine began.

The preliminary data was announced ahead of the official meteorological start of autumn, September 1.

What did the German weather service say?

Before this summer's record number of sunshine hours, the previous high was 793.3 hours, recorded in 2003.

Although the summer of 2022 would be the driest on record for some regions of Germany, this was not the case nationwide. In terms of rainfall, which has been measured since 1881, early calculations show that the summer of 2022 was the sixth driest on record. 

"The summer weather, which was clearly too dry and warmer than average and rich in sunshine, caused the soil to dry out severely," the DWD said. "Summer crops such as potatoes, maize and sugar beets were particularly hard hit," the assessment said, noting that a similar pattern had been seen only four years ago, during the 2018 drought.

When it came to temperature, preliminary data showed this year's summer among the four warmest since records began more than 140 years ago.

Data came from some 2,000 weather stations across Germany. The highest temperature in 2022 was recorded at Hamburg-Neuwiedenthal on July 20 — at 40.1 degrees Celsius (104.18 degrees Fahrenheit). 

"In times of climate change, we may have experienced what will soon be a typical summer," said Uwe Kirsche, a spokesman for the DWD.

What were the regional differences? 

Although it was a warm summer across Germany, there were some regional differences in terms of the problems encountered. 

The DWD highlighted a problem with low water in the Rhine River, which disrupted  river traffic along stretches of the busy waterway. It noted that this had eased somewhat by the end of August because of precipitation upstream in the Alps.  

Also among the headline-making environmental events of the year underlined by the DWD was the appearance of harmful toxic algae in German rivers. That too has been attributed by scientists to low water levels and linked to mass fish die-offs.

The weather service also pointed out that some states, such as Hesse and Brandenburg, had been ravaged by forest fires and parched by drought. 

Germany and the drought

In contrast, the DWD pointed out, there had been heavy rain in parts of the southern state of Bavaria, where drains and dry earth were unable to cope with the sudden precipitation. 

July 2021 saw devastating floods in western Germany and Belgium, with more than 230 people losing their lives in those countries.

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.