REKLISO - Regional Climate Analysis of the Southern Upper Rhine

Background and Goals

Due to climate change, the importance of a climate-adapted urban development and design strategy will increase in the coming years. Such a strategy will sustain and strengthen local climatic compensation functions in the long run. This concerns e.g. the safeguarding of open spaces, which play a vital role for the ventilation and thermal equalisation of settlement areas. The project focuses on the inclusion of climatic surface functions in spatial planning. Preventive planning measures of this kind make a direct contribution towards securing favourable living conditions for the region’s population and are an important complement to emission reduction measures.

A climate analysis commissioned by the Regionalverband Südlicher Oberrhein ("Alliance of the Southern Upper Rhine Region") was completed by the end of 2006. Thus, for the first time, a comprehensive information base for the region is available, which allows the aspects of climate and air protection to be taken into account in spatial planning. The regional climate analysis encompasses a comprehensive analysis of selected planning criteria related to the protected commodities of climate and air, as well as deduced technical objectives and recommendations for action for spatial planning in the region. The results provide a basis for decision-making concerning the update of regional planning and serve as a point of orientation for the local planning level.


The following objectives will be pursued:

  • Region-wide, comprehensive analysis of selected planning criteria with regard to the protected commodities of climate and air, particularly with respect to wind regimes, the temperature situation, cold air production and transport, as well as air pollution and heat stress risks;
  • Development of specific objectives and recommendations for spatial planning from a climatological perspective with regard to the topics of ventilation, air hygiene and the thermal situation;
  • Specific formatting of the results as a basis for regional spatial planning.

Content time

Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

The forecasting and evaluation of the most important climatological parameters will be prepared in cooperation with other projects in the region (KLIWA and KLARA).

Depending on the underlying emission scenario a mean global temperature rise of between 1.4 and 5.8°C by the year 2100, compared with the period from 1961 to 1990, will be assumed (according to IPCC 2001). For Baden-Württemberg and the scenario period up to about 2050, the following regional climate developments can be expected: increase in average temperatures, changes in temperature extremes, changes in precipitation, changes in river run-off and increased groundwater recharge. In addition, heat island effects will increasingly influence the local climate in urban areas.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
Further Parameters 

wind speed, snow cover, air pollutant concentrations, bioclimatic parameters (the thermal effect complex, or heat stress and cold stress, and the air-hygienic effect complex, or air pollution at ground level).

Time horizon
  • medium term = to 2050
Further times 


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

Approach and results 

The expected climate changes in Baden-Württemberg will have the following significant effects on people, biodiversity and ecosystems as well as land use in the coming decades:

  • An increase in extreme events (floods, storms) will lead to greater immediate life and health risks for the population. In addition, an increase in the extent of property damages is to be expected.
  • A projected increasing frequency and intensity of summer heat waves and of the number of hot days will present a growing health risk. The parallel decline of cold stress expected in winters will not be able to compensate for the increasing exposure to heat stress.
  • Overall climate warming will have significant effects on native animal and plant species, their population size and on natural ecosystems.
  • Climate change will have positive as well as negative effects on agriculture: In general, the requirements for maize cultivation (grain maize in particular) in the Upper Rhine region will be improved by climate warming, while a tendency towards increasing drought stress in summers will lead to local losses in crop yields.
  • Less serious changes in productivity are expected for the forestry sector since little change in the annual precipitation total is projected so far. However, an increase in the damages through pests and extreme weather events is expected.
  • Climate change is expected to produce more positive effects for summer tourism in Baden-Württemberg while having negative effects on winter tourism.

These impacts of climate change in Southwest Germany will also have a considerable effect on the spatial development of the Southern Upper Rhine region. The following two threats are particularly significant for spatial planning in the region:

  • Flooding risks will increase significantly, particularly in winter.
  • Summer heat stress in valleys and lowland areas, which is already high today, will increase considerably, particularly in settlement areas.

Due to the expected high heat stress and sharp increase in heavy rain and flood risks, the Upper Rhine region is one of the regions threatened most by climate change in Germany.

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

Urgency and priorization of adaptation needs 

The results show that the population’s vulnerability in the state of Baden-Württemberg will increase by a factor of approximately 20% through heat stress. According to the scenario analyses, an additional 180 to 400 heat-related deaths per year can be expected. The vulnerability through heat stress is determined by the frequency of heat events, as well as the population-specific sensitivity. However, the health sector’s adaptive capacity is not considered here.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

In addition to climate mitigation, the adaptation to unavoidable climate impacts is essential. This particularly includes summer heat stress in the Upper Rhine region, which is already above average today.

Spatial planning plays a vital role for the preservation of favourable climatic conditions in the Southern Upper Rhine region: It is necessary to ensure that the effects of global climate change are not aggravated locally, but rather mitigated as much as possible by maintaining the open spaces necessary for a balanced climate, as well as implementing an adapted urban development and design strategy. The paramount task of spatial planning in the Southern Upper Rhine region in the future will be to secure climatically and air-hygienically favourable living and working conditions for the local population.

A central aim of adaptation is the integration of climatic surface functions in spatial planning. To this end, the relevant results are made available in the form of climate analysis and planning guide maps that can be used for spatial planning. The development of specific objectives and recommendations for action for spatial planning from a climatological perspective will be carried out for the topics of ventilation, air hygiene and thermal situation. First and foremost, the results provide a basis for updating the landscape framework plan and the regional plan for the Southern Upper Rhine. Second, they will have a signal effect for urban planning, building development, landscape design, technical planning and relevant, isolated spatial planning projects at the local level.

Time horizon
  • 2036–2065


Funding / Financing 

Ministry of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg

Project management 

Regional association Southern Upper Rhine


University of Basel, Institute for Meteorology, Climatology and Remote Sensing;
Technical University of Berlin, field of Climatology


Regionalverband Südlicher Oberrhein
Reichsgrafenstr. 19
79102 Freiburg i. Br.

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  human health and care  spatial planning, urban and settlement development  tourism industry  water regime and water management  woodland and forestry