Background and Goals
There are clear indications that the pollution of the atmosphere by humans will lead to a global climate change. For example, among other things, this would mean a rise in temperature, an accelerated rise in the sea level and changes in precipitation and wind patterns. These insidious changes will also affect the coastal regions of North Germany, and particularly those river estuaries where the sea influence reaches far inland. In order to be able to commission precautionary scientific studies of the potential effects of the climate change and, if necessary, develop possible long-term adaptation strategies for society from these findings, the federal government and the coastal states founded the research programme "Climate Change and the Coast", within which the project will be supported.
Across all sectors, the interdisciplinary research project will assess the sensitivity of the hydrological, ecological and socio-economic structures of the natural environment and the living and economic area of the inner Weser Estuary and its marshes towards potential climate changes, and develop different strategies to enable society to deal with these changes. In a first step, the effects of a potential climate change on the present condition the natural environment and the living and economic area will be comprehensively analysed in order to identify the sensitivities. In a second step, various possible courses of action will be developed for dealing with the potential climate change. The courses of action are presented in the context of development pathways, representing various possible future scenarios for the region and dependent on transregional changes in the political, societal and economic environment.
- Lower Saxony
- North-West German lowland
Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change
Step 1: Understand and describe climate change
Downscaling from the combined atmospheric and marine models ECHAM4 and OPYC3:
annual average ambient temperature increase by 2.7°C (more in spring, less in autumn, milder winters);
increase in annual average precipitation by 10% (spring +20%, summer -6%);
increase in wind speed by +4% (autumn/winter: greater increase, summer: decrease);
increase in tidal range by 30 cm; average rise in sea level by 55cms (15 cms secular and 40cms anthropogenic)
- Altered rainfall patterns
- Higher average temperatures
- Sea level rise und storm surges
wind speed,tidal range
Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact
The consequences of the climate change will be an increased failure probability of the coastal defences, changes in water management, changes in the groundwater reserves and soil retention, socio-economic consequences, hydrographic changes in the Weser, changes in the intensity of land use for agriculture, as well as ecological consequences for the biotope types in the foreland and inland areas.
Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances
The sensitivity of the natural and social systems is assessed as comparatively moderate. The adaptive capacity in coastal defence, water management and agriculture is assessed as high.
Step 3: Develop and compare measures
As adaptation measures, so-called coastal defence response strategies are examined (strengthening of the existing dyke embankments, creation of flood polders, creation of a storm flood barrage).
The already existing conflicts between coastal protection, nature conservation and agriculture may escalate due to the climate change.
Step 4: Plan and implement measures
Assessment of the construction costs for the adaptation measures considered (so-called coastal defence response strategies).
Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of Bremen
BioConsult Schuchardt & Scholle GbR
University of Bremen: Dept. Aquatic Ecology - Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
University of Bremen: degree course Geography (Social Sciences),
University of Bremen: Faculty of Economics,
University of Hanover: Franzius Institute of Hydraulics, Waterways and Coastal Engineering;
GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht: Institute of Hydrophysics;
Technical University of Braunschweig: Leichtweiß Institute for Hydraulics - Dept. Hydrology and Water Management
BioConsult Schuchardt & Scholle GbR