ALARM - Assessing large scale Risks for biodiversity with tested Methods

Background and Goals

In the project, methods are developed and tested for estimating large-scale environmental risks and minimizing the negative direct and indirect humans impacts on the ecosystems. For this, a better understanding of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is required. In particular, changes in biodiversity and in the structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems will be assessed and forecast. This also includes the so-called ecosystem services and the interactions between society, economy and biodiversity. Moreover, in the context of current and future European land use patterns, the project will assess risks arising from climate change, environmental chemicals, biological invasions and pollinator loss.

The objective is the development of an integrated and large-scale risk assessment for changes in biodiversity of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. To this end, economic indicators will be developed to support policies that contribute to the preservation of biodiversity . The risk assessment includes methods and also ""risk assessment objects"" (RAOs), which are the results generated by risk assessments using the methods stored in the ""risk assessment toolkit"" (RAT). These are stored in a database available on the internet. In the RAT, different search criteria can be selected, such as geographical region, driver/pressure on biodiversity or implemented storyline.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Europe
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 

There are three qualitative climate scenarios (corresponding to "good", "same as now", and "bad" ). The HadCM3 climate model provides the baseline.

In addition, different "storylines" will be defined, narrative descriptions of alternative future pathways of the factors of socio-economic context, demographic development, macroeconomics, technological development, consumption patterns, energy and transport development, agriculture, waste and resource flows, geopolitical and international cooperation, trade and globalisation, migration, and availability of natural resources The three storylines are named BAMBU (Business-As-Might-Be-Usual), GRAS (Growth Applied Strategy), and SEDG (Sustainable European Development Goal). In addition, so-called "shock scenarios" are studied, e.g., changes in the thermohaline circulation, changes in land use, and changes in soil moisture (see ALARM project).

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

cloud cover
growing degree days

atmospheric vapour pressureGeographical reference

Time horizon
  • long term = to 2100 and beyond

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

Approach and results 

In addition to the assessment of risks arising from the climate change, the project also considers the risks of environmental chemicals, biological invasions and pollinator loss. For the terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, the impacts of the climate change will be expressed locally in the form of changes to species composition, diversity and structure, as well as altered dynamics, which can have consequences for biodiversity

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The loss of biodiversity can lead to in the impairment of current ecosystem services valued by the human population.

To mitigate the adverse effects of a curtailment of ecosystem services on society. This is to be achieved with the aid of a risk assessment, comprising hazard identification, risk estimate, risk management and risk communication.

Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)

Step 4: Plan and implement measures

Costs of the measures 

Economic risk indicators are considered


Funding / Financing 

 EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research, Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems

Project management 

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Location Halle


Cooperation with 54 partners from 26 countries;

in Germany:

  • Georg August University of Göttingen;
  • Department for Animal Ecology, University of Bayreuth;
  • OLANIS Expertensysteme GmbH;
  • Institute for Geobotany, University of Hanover;
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK);
  • Institute for Zoology, Martin Luther University of Halle Wittenberg;
  • L.U.P.O. GmbH;

Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Theodor-Lieser-Straße 4
D-06120 Halle/Saale

Printer-friendly version
Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  spatial planning, urban and settlement development