The Elbe – a European river in global climate change

05/07/2012 - The flooding of the Elbe river ten years ago or the contrasting dry summer just one year later: extreme events like these display the vulnerability of our society. The recently published “Elbe-Atlas des globalen Wandels” (Elbe-Atlas of Global Change) demonstrates possible shifts that may occur as a result of climate change, presenting the findings of comprehensive analysis of climate change impacts for water management and affected economical sectors. From electricity generation to industry, tourism, shipping or communal water supply – detailed maps illustrate projected changes until 2055.
The Elbe – a European river in global climate change
Dry summers, heavy rain in winter: climate change in the Elbe region. Image: PIK

“Water management is particularly affected by climate change,” says project leader Frank Wechsung from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The analysis was from an early stage supported by the Ministry of Education and Science. “A seasonal limitation of water supply raises conflicts between the needs of industry, agriculture and private households,” says Wechsung. “Our atlas suggests ways to adapt by revealing the key problems.” The large-format book was realized in cooperation with scientists from partner institutions of the GLOWA-Elbe network and Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography.

Furthermore, an accompanying book will be published this summer (Weißensee Verlag). In it, Frank Wechsung and a team of authors discuss the costs of possible climate change and adaptation measures. The Elbe approach is also tested for application on parts of river Haihe in China. Options of adaptation for the Guanting basin, one hour from Beijing, are analysed in close collaboration with local experts on water management in a region that is economically booming as much as it is affected by climate change.


Weblink to the atlas

Weblink to the GLOWA-Elbe project