Hot Now? Germany’s Extreme Heat Days Will Quadruple by 2050, Gro Analysis Shows

Temperatures in many parts of Western Europe are hitting 40° Celsius amid the current heat wave. In Germany, the number of extreme heat days will more than quadruple by 2050, albeit from a low base, according to a Gro analysis. 

Climate projections, weighted for where most people in Germany live using Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for People and the Economy, indicate a sharp increase in the number of days per year over 35°C in 2050. 

The Gro Climate Risk Navigator for People and the Economy, which incorporates temperature projections from the Gro Climate Ensemble Model, allows users to view climate statistics and projections weighted by the population and economic activity of any country through the end of the century under five climate change scenarios typically used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

We estimate 1.3 days per year of greater-than-35°C temperature for the German population in 2050, up from about 0.3 day in 2021. The figures appear small in part because they represent calculations for the whole of Germany, which reduces the impact of localized weather extremes. 

The Gro Climate Ensemble Model combines data from the best climate models around the world to estimate the rate of change in climate conditions under various GHG emissions scenarios between the present time and the next 50 to 100 years. View a display of temperature and precipitation projections for Germany, weighted by population density, out to 2100 in Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator here

Extreme heat poses health risks for the population, especially since fewer than 2% of German homes and only about half the country’s offices are air conditioned. Among other challenges, continued hot and dry weather is raising concerns that already low water levels on the Rhine could drop further, potentially interrupting commerce on this major shipping thoroughfare. 

Preliminary data from Hamburg Airport shows a high of 38.8°C recorded at Hamburg airport last Wednesday, which is still below Germany’s all-time high of 41.2°C, set in the Dusseldorf region in July 2019. To put the current heat in perspective, average temperatures in Germany last week at times ran 11.05°C above the 10-year mean, according to Gro’s Anomaly Detection Model. 

For our analysis using the Gro Climate Risk Navigator for People and the Economy, we relied on two IPCC climate projection scenarios — SSP2-4.5, the so-called “middle of the road” warming scenario, and SSP3-7.0, the IPCC’s medium-to-high emissions scenario. Currently, the IPCC's trajectory estimate for global warming falls between these two scenarios. 

The analysis, which is weighted for population density throughout Germany, indicates a 330% increase – more than quadruple – in days above 35°C in 2050 under both scenarios, compared with 2021. This corresponds to a 0.8°C rise by 2050 in mean high temperature under the SSP2-4.5 scenario, and a 1.3°C gain under SSP3-7.0. 

Looking to the end of the century, the number of extreme heat event days will increase to nearly 4 days per year in 2100 under the SSP2-4.5 scenario, and to 8.8 days per year under the SSP3-7.0 scenario, the analysis shows.

Germany is projected to experience more extreme heat days in coming decades. This chart, weighted for Germany’s population density using Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for People and the Economy, shows the number of above-35°C days under two mid-range IPCC global warming scenarios.