Climate Proof Areas

Background and Goals

Climate is unmistakably changing and it is necessary to prepare for it. To ensure a safe, natural and wealthy future, adapting land to the changing conditions is one of the greatest challenges in the North Sea region.

Objectives: The aim of the project is to develop strategies and concepts for adaptation to the potential impacts of climate change in different regions of the southern North Sea region. This is based on pilot projects in the partner countries having different focuses. Each of their results will be used as "best practice" examples and be included into recommendations for transnational adaptation strategies. In addition, a portfolio of possible approaches to climate change adaptation for the southern North Sea region will be developed and provided.

Belgium, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have joined forces in this project. Scientists, water experts and civil servants from all five partners are developing new innovative and sustainable methods to help render ten threatened areas climate proof. Within every project local governments and inhabitants are involved to make sure various local threats and problems will be taken into account. Focusing on local environment and economic opportunities and sharing this information between European partners means Climate Proof Areas will provide lessons for everybody. Soon, Climate Proof Areas will help to adapt regions for a better future.

The project is structured in 5 work packages:

  1. analysing, gathering, updating and synthesizing all existing information on the expected impact of climate change on the partner regions,
  2. develop and testing innovative adaptation measures,
  3. adapting policy recommendations and mobilizing political support,
  4. collect the lessons learned for future projects,
  5. international project management and communication actions.

There are four project areas in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands, two in the German district of Wesermarsch, one in the Swedish town Arvika and three in Great-Britain. Each area is unique and remarkable and threatened by rising water levels.

The German pilot projects in the Lower Saxony district Wesermarsch are located in the rural hinterland (Water boards Butjadingen, Stadland and Jade) and the urban area Braker Sielacht. In the following, results for the German pilot areas are presented.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Lower Saxony
Spatial resolution 


Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Sea level rise projections are based on the IPCC (4th Assessment Report 2007) and Rahmstorf (2007). In addition, water level changes in the regional mean high tide and the tidal range from historical data are taken into account. The regional climate model WETTREG is used as well (especially for the emissions scenario A1B).


  • Sea level rise by 2100: 18-59 cm. In accordance with Rahmstorf (2007) an average increase of 20-40 cm by 2050 and 50-120 cm up to 2100 is expected.
  • Increase in mean annual temperature: 1 to 1.5°C
  • Increase in winter precipitation of about 25%
  • Decrease in summer precipitation of about 15%
  • Trend of increase in wind speeds during winter and decrease during summer
  • Increase in the sunshine of about 0.5-1 hour per day
  • Increase in evaporation during summer and winter of about 5-7% per year
  • Increase in annual evaporation about 5-7%
  • Increase in runoff during winter of about 15%
  • Increasing water deficit during summer
Parameter (climate signals)
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Sea level rise und storm surges
Further Parameters 

Drainage, wind speed, sunshine, evaporation

Time horizon
  • medium term = to 2050
Further times 

in decades 1961-2100

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

Approach and results 

protection of coastal regions, agricultural drainage and watering, drinking water supply, urban water management, changes in land use

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

Approach and results 

Adaptive Capacity: the capacity of the water management for watering and drainage will be analyzed. The sensitivity of the historic way of utilization in the region will be considered.

Urgency and priorization of adaptation needs 

Urgency and needs for adaption measures arise from the specific location of Wesermarsch (water from all sides: Jade Bay in the west, Lower Weser and Hunte on the east and south, the North Sea to the north).

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

In order to develop adaptation strategies, considerations and assumptions concerning the future use of the region are necessary. This can be done by developing in a general vision for spatial planning for example. In the context of the so-called Regional Forum in Wesermarsch ideas have been collected regarding the general orientation of the district for the year 2050. This was done with the participation of regional actors revealing the following basic points:

  • The preservation of the overall appearance of the landscape: Wide, green lowlands, pastoral farming and typical marshland waters are preferable.
  • A safe life behind the dike in future: The coastal protection should ensure a higher security in future than today.
  • The possibility of a sustainable competitive agriculture: Agriculture is supposed to be an important economic sector in the future.
  • Coastal protection should be prioritized over other construction measures in future. It is suggested that compensatory measures should not be necessary in future concerning coastal protection measures.
  • The sustained safeguarding of jobs in the Wesermarsch region should be actively promoted in future. This can be achieved by a regional development of future work, life and competitive economies.

This vision for the county Wesermarsch for the year 2050 provides the framework for possible adaptation options in terms of technical measures and alternative concepts of land utilization. Regional actors are therefore particularly interested in the preservation of the existing overall appearance of the landscape.

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

Conflicts related to land and water use will be discussed within the Regional Forum Wesermarsch


Funding / Financing 

Interreg IVb North Sea Region Programme; funded by the European Union and the European Regional Development Fund

Project management 

Province of Zeeland, Netherlands; The Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg is co-ordinator of Work Package 3 (adapting policy recommendations and mobilizing political support) and represents the German partnership


Climate Proof Areas relies on the collaboration of various partners. In every project numerous stakeholders are involved from neighbours and local authorities to international renowned scientists.


  • Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany;
  • Province of Zeeland, Netherlands;
  • County Administrative Board of Värmland, Sweden;
  • Municipality Arvika, Sweden;
  • Deltares, Unit Subsurface and Groundwater, Netherlands;
  • Ghent University, Centre for Mobility and Physical Planning, Belgium;
  • The National Trust, United Kingdom; Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSBP), United Kingdom;
  • Municipality Schouwen-Duiveland, Netherlands;
  • Swedish Geotechnical Institute, Sweden;
  • Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat), Netherlands; Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), Sweden;
  • Wildlife Trust NCPB, United Kingdom;
  • District Wesermarsch;

Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg
Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118
D-26129 Oldenburg

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  coastal and marine protection  spatial planning, urban and settlement development  tourism industry  water regime and water management