AnKliG - Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change and Extreme Weather Conditions and Measures for a Sustainable Groundwater Management

Background and Goals

Climate change has a key impact on groundwater management. It affects both the available water supply and the water demand. Groundwater and springs cover 70% of the public drinking water supply in Germany. Concurrently there is an intense land utilization which leads to competitive interests. In general not mean but extreme high or low groundwater levels cause conflicts in water use between different sectors like the urban areas, agriculture, nature conservation and forestry. To obtain a sustainable groundwater management the research project has to assess the effects of climate change on the groundwater balance and to figure out which adaptive actions and strategies need to be developed.

Based on regional climate simulations the impacts of climate change on soil water and groundwater balances will be quantified by long term-continuous simulations until 2100. Climate change as well as demographic effects will alter the use of groundwater in the future. This has to be compared to the impact of climate change on the yield capabilities of groundwater resources.

Areas investigated were the Hessische Ried and the neighbouring Odenwald forest in Southern Hesse.

Work packages of this project:

  1. Evaluate the supply guarantee of local facilities for public water use (e.g. springs in the Odenwald)
  2. Quantify the impact of climate change on high-/low-level of groundwater table
  3. Assess the extension of conflicts of groundwater utilization to other kinds of land use
  4. Reveal capabilities and limitations of groundwater management to counterbalance the impact of climate change on groundwater resources
  5. Develop strategies for action in regional water management because of alterations in groundwater table and resources due to climate change

The results may be transferred to other regions in respect of

  • the efficiency of actions to counterbalance the impact of climate change on groundwater resources (e.g. connecting water works),
  • the increase of monitoring in order to strengthen regional groundwater management, or
  • the capabilities of the expansion of groundwater recharge by artificial infiltration.

Important fields of adaptive actions are wine- and fruit-growing, agriculture and forestry. This research project will provide reliable data about the changes in soil moisture in the future (e.g. frequency and duration of droughts), which are essential basics for the planning in that field.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Hesse
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
  • Upper Rhine Rift

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Groundwater recharge was determined by long-term simulation differentiated locally up to 2100, and implemented in a transient groundwater model for the Hessische Ried. In the forecast calculations, various approaches to the regionalisation of the course of global climate model ECHAM5 (considering IPCC emission scenario A1B, A2 and B1) were evaluated with the data sets from WETTREG, STAR and CLM and downscaled by the CEC Potsdam GmbH through a statistical approach.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • River flooding
  • Heat waves
  • Flash floods
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
Time horizon
  • long term = to 2100 and beyond

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

Approach and results 

Consequences for the groundwater balance will be observed: Groundwater level, groundwater recharge, available groundwater water supply and the consumption of ground water. Regarding to hydrological investigations of the Integrated Climate Protection Programme Hesse (INKLIM 2012) climate change will cause a higher renewal rate for groundwater in many areas of Hesse to vary seasonally.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Aside from adaptive strategies regarding the ground water management, adaptive options for important fields like wine- and fruit-growing, agriculture and forestry will be considered as well. To provide profound knowledge in the course of further development of adaptive strategies in these sectors, future shifts in ground- and soil water levels will be quantified in respect of temporal dynamics (e.g. duration of drought).

Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)
Conflicts / synergies / sustainability 

There are conflicts of utilization of groundwater between nature conservation, forestry, urban areas and agriculture.


Funding / Financing 

Funding programme “klimazwei – research for climate protection and protection from climate impacts”, Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany

Project management 

BGS UMWELT, Brandt Gerdes Sitzmann Umweltplanung


Hessisches Landesamt für Umwelt und Geologie; Hessenwasser GmbH & Co. KG


BGS UMWELT, Brandt Gerdes Sitzmann Umweltplanung
An der Eschollmühle 28
64297 Darmstadt

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  water regime and water management  woodland and forestry