Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency shows extremely low water levels in the Rhine River, which is the second largest river in Europe. The river is dying out as a result of sweltering temperatures and a lack of rainfall. The waterway is becoming impassable for many shipping vessels.
“Flowing from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, the Rhine River is an important shipping route for many products from grains to chemicals to coal. When water levels drop, cargo vessels need to sail with reduced load, so they don’t run aground,” explains ESA.
“Water levels at the chokepoint of Kaub, near Frankfurt, fell to 32 cm in depth on Monday, down from 42 cm last week. Ships, however, need around 1.5 m to be able to sail fully loaded making it difficult for larger ships to navigate through the waters. Freight ships continue to sail, but only with around 25% to 35% of the ship’s capacity.”
According to ESA, the Rhine dried up earlier than usual this year, with the lowest water levels typically recorded in September or October. In the coming days, lower temperature and precipitation are expected to greatly improve the issue.
“The phenomenon facing the Rhine is common across much of Europe after an unusually hot and dry summer – causing wildfires and water shortages,” says ESA.
Image Credit: ESA