ACCELERATES - Assessing Climate Change Effects on Land use and Ecosystems: from Regional Analysis to the European Scale

Background and Goals

The project studies the interactions between agricultural land use, environmental changes and environmental protection, which need special consideration when managing biological resources.

The aim of the project is to assess the vulnerability to environmental change of exploited ecosystems, taking into account the conventions on climate change and biodiversity. This is to be achieved by assessing the size and dynamics of agricultural land use changes as a consequence of climatic, political and socio-economic changes. Moreover, the consequences of agricultural land use and climate change on the biological resources and the vulnerability of agroecosystems is to be assessed, by analysing their sensitivity and adaptive capacity. To this end, climate-induced critical stress factors for the ecosystems will be identified.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Europe
  • Greece
  • Great Britain
  • Italy
  • Spain
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • Northrhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

A total of 16 climate change scenarios will be taken into account, based on the results of four global climate models (CSIRO2, HadCM3, CGCM2, PCM). The development of the climate data will be carried out by the University of East Anglia (UEA) for the 20th and 21st century (see also ATEAM project). The socio-economic scenarios are based on the IPCC emission scenarios (SRES) A1FI, A2, B1 and B2.

Geographical reference: Land surface of Europe with a 10' spatial resolution as well as various national and regional case studies.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
Further Parameters 

cloud cover, water vapour pressure, seasonal temperature and precipitation patterns

Further times 

2001 to 2100, divided into the periods 2011-2020, 2041-2050 and 2071-2080

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The effects of the climate change on agriculture and biodiversity will be examined. For agriculture in the south of Europe, for irrigation water shortages are relevant. In the north of Europe, the intensification of agricultural use with potentially higher yields and the additional options for cultivating new (southern) crops is relevant, since negative climate effects on the environment and biological resources are possible. Consequences for biodiversity arise from the shift in species distribution from south west to north east. Southern European species will more likely still be able to find suitable habitats, while northern European species will lose the most distribution area, particularly because of the restricted availability of "free" alternative habitats in the north of Europe.

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

The vulnerability of agroecosystems is determined by their sensitivity and their adaptive capacity. Vulnerability analyses show that, without planned adaptation measures, species vulnerability will increase in Europe, as overlapping of current and future habitats occurs along with loss of suitable climate conditions and distribution areas. Species in the northernmost areas of distribution have only a limited number of possibilities for reducing their vulnerability through adaptation.

An increase in the autonomous adaptive capacity of agricultural ecosystems to the climate change could be achieved by doing away with agricultural subsidies that are linked to particular crops and crop yields. Furthermore, it is considered necessary to regulate the intensity of agricultural land use, particularly in regions with marginal soils, since the uninhibited liberalization of the agricultural economy in Europe does not appear to be an optimum strategy.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Time horizon
  • 2011–2040 (near future)
  • 2036–2065
  • 2071–2100 (far future)
Conflicts / synergies / sustainability 

The potential for conflict between agriculture, nature conservation and climate protection can increase in future. For this reason, it is especially important to develop strategies for a sustainable management of land use changes and nature conservation with regard to the climate change.


Funding / Financing 

funded under the EU's 5th Framework Programme for Research "Global change, climate and biodiversity" in the subprogramme "Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development"

Project management 

Department of Geography, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium


LUCC - Land-Use and Land Cover Change programme


Université Catholique de Louvain, Department of Geography
Bât. Mercator, Place Pasteur 3
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve

Printer-friendly version Send by email
Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity