Climate change quite practical

North German climate office opens

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Hardly a news show in recent days that does not deal with climate change. How can we stop it? Which measures for avoidance are necessary? However, little attention is paid to the question of how to deal with the changes that are already perceptible and can no longer be avoided for the future, even with greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The North German Climate Laboratory wants to close this gap at the GKSS Research Center Geesthacht.


"We want to be the interface between those who are or will soon be affected by climate change, and climate research, which so far makes abstract and global statements, " Dr. Insa Meinke, head of the climate office, the claim together. "A farmer, for example, is recording declining yields in his apple trees and wants to know which varieties are better able to cope with the changed circumstances." The concrete background is research by the orchard in Jork: The variety Holsteiner Cox can no longer be economical even when heated by one degree be grown.

Apple varieties migrate ...

"For such practical concerns, we are developing research questions in order to re-evaluate climate scenarios under practical focal points. For the example of Holsteiner Cox, this means that this strain may no longer thrive in northern Germany in about 20 years. This results in results that can be put into practice immediately. "Responding to climate change does not just mean initiating energy-saving measures and acting in a climate-friendly way. "This does not diminish the need for climate-friendly measures, " emphasizes Meinke, "but we must realize that climate change has long been taking place." For example, more and more southern species are moving north, bringing with them diseases or problems. Best example ticks that transmit the bacterial disease Lyme disease or the virus of tick-borne encephalitis. They are increasingly appearing in northern Germany.

Dike security in focus

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A good example of how the North German Climate Office can help to initiate concrete action is dyke security in northern Germany. How long will the dykes last? Rising sea levels coupled with higher tidal storm surges may require new coastal protection considerations. "Here we have been in close contact with coastal engineers from various offices, authorities and institutes for some time. So far, we have been effectively protected from storm surges. However, the risk of storm surge has to be continuously re-evaluated hand in hand with the latest research results. The North German Climate Office, as an institution of the Institute for Coastal Research of the GKSS Research Center, accesses current research results. With regard to the storm surges, we must expect that they will rise by about 60 centimeters by the end of this century.

"Knowledge creates benefits" is the motto of the GKSS Research Center and this becomes clear in the Climate Office. Not research for the ivory tower, but contact between farmers, town planners, reinsurers, disaster relief workers outside and the scientists inside. Of course, this goal only succeeds if those concerned have confidence in the power of science to work out solutions. The work of the Climate Office relies heavily on data for northern Germany, which is processed and summarized in the data base coastDat and made accessible to the scientific community. In this database are data such as wave heights, wind strengths, air and water temperatures, with which the coastal climate of the past can be analyzed for the future.

(Kirsten Achenbach, MARUM_Research Center Ocean Borders, 20.03.2007 - AHE)