Rhine River at Kaub drops below transit levels, Germany
On August 12, 2022, the Rhine River in Kaub, Germany dropped below a key waterline level of 40 cm (15.7 inches), used as a benchmark for determining its navigability.
The station in the city of Kaub, a bottleneck for shipping where the Rhine runs narrow and shallow, recorded the water level at 38 cm (14.9 inches) in the early evening of August 12, 2 cm (0.78 inches) below the crucial level for much of the transport along the river.
By Sunday, August 13, it was already at 37 cm (14.5 inches) and is expected to continue dropping as no considerable precipitation is expected in the days ahead.
Due to safety reasons, the transport business Contargo issued a warning that its barges could not travel without danger, resulting in the suspension of transportation on the Upper and Middle Rhine.1
Long periods of low water mean big problems for inland navigation, because as water levels go down so does the load capacity of inland vessels, Contargo said.
“Conversely this means that more tonnage is required to carry the same amount of cargo. Costs go up substantially because as well as limited capacity use of the vessels usually available, it becomes necessary to charter additional tonnage and this gets more expensive as water levels drop and the market gets tighter.”2
The transportation of goods via Rhine has grown increasingly significant in recent months due to Germany’s increasing reliance on coal to lessen its dependency on Russian gas.
According to Deutsche Bank Research, the 2018 drought, which saw the Rhine’s benchmark depth in Kaub fall to 25 cm (9.8 inches) in October, reduced German GDP by 0.2% that year.
1 Rhine drops below crucial level, impacts river transport – AFP – August 12, 2022
2 Low level surcharge – Contargo – Accessed August 14, 2022
Featured image: Rhine River in Kaub, Germany on August 12, 2022. Credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, EO Browser, The Watchers
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