From summer droughts to winter floods: climate impacts in Germany

09/26/2012 - Global climate change has local impacts from the Baltic Sea to the Alps, from Rhineland to the sands of Brandenburg. For the first time, these impacts can be shown in a comprehensive and consistent manner for the sectors they will particularly affect, including agriculture, forestry, water management and energy supply. About 170 guests from business, politics, administrations, science and associations attended the presentation of findings by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research at the Humboldt University of Berlin early this week.
From summer droughts to winter floods: climate impacts in Germany
The platform "Klimafolgen Online" will be launched in early December

“The image we see is not all black and white,” says the project’s leader Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe. For instance, while a total increase in wood production in the forests is expected, trees on some of Eastern Germany’s dry soils will suffer. Winter wheat will yield slightly better harvests, corn slightly poorer ones. Spring snow melt leads to an increased risk of river flooding; low water levels later in the year can interfere with shipping. And higher water temperatures can affect the cooling of power plants. “Although this is less dramatic than in other regions around the world, it’s serious enough,” says Gerstengarbe. “We provide the kind of information that decision-makers on the ground need to plan adaptation.”

All this is not a prognosis, but a scenario of a possible future if climate change carries on largely unabated. The calculations are based on the assumption that Germany will get warmer by between 3.6 and 4.1 degrees up to the year 2100, as this fits well the pattern of / the trend of observed temperature changes. The computer simulation STARS provided data for a number of impact models. The statistical error for all meteorological parameters is less than 10 percent, according to the scientists. The tool has already been tested by PIK in other regions, like South Africa. Information is provided for cells of 10 by 10 kilometres.

In early December, an internet platform will be launched in collaboration with WetterOnline. Via this platform, it is planned to make climate projections and their sectoral impacts available to the public – for mayors as well as farmers, Federal Administrations as well as forest rangers.

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