Climate change: Milder winters, drier summers for Saxony-Anhalt

Climate study reveals regional changes and needs for adaptation

Possible changes in groundwater recharge [in millimeters per year] in 2085 compared to the period 1961 to 1990 in the Elbe catchment area (left) and Saxony-Anhalt. © PIK
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Climate change could aggravate the drought in some regions of the state of Saxony-Anhalt in the summer and reduce the formation of new groundwater. This emerges from a study of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), which was handed over to the Minister of the Environment on Wednesday. While forestry could initially benefit, must in the
Agriculture with slightly decreasing yields. Water could become a precious resource in Saxony-Anhalt.

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has analyzed the possible effects of climate change on various regions and economic sectors for Saxony-Anhalt. The scientists investigated how three different global climate scenarios could affect Saxony-Anhalt. For this purpose, the projections for the time horizons 2025, 2055 and 2085 were compared with the reference period 1961 to 1990. The study shows where there is future need for action in the areas of agriculture, water management, forestry and nature conservation.

Less water

The results show that climate change is likely to reduce precipitation and increase evaporation from soils and vegetation in most of the country except the Harz. "These changes in water availability require sustainable management of existing resources, " says Jürgen Kropp, head of the study. Probably less groundwater will be available in the future.

More income

"The forest can develop positively in the first half of the century because of the extended growth phase, " says Kropp. However, after 2070, the productivity of the plants may decrease. In agriculture, the fertilising effect of an increased concentration of carbon dioxide could have a positive effect and increase yields. However, this is only sufficient

Supply of nutrients guaranteed. Increasing water stress can certainly nullify these increases. display

"However, problems of this kind can be posed, for example through intelligent management, " says Kropp. In agriculture, for example, this means selecting suitable varieties for growing in a drier climate. Climate change could have a positive impact on viticulture. Higher temperatures are better growing conditions for grapes. The winemakers of Saxony-Anhalt could also expand their range of grape varieties to include Sauvignon blanc.

Adjustments needed

"Depending on all efforts to slow down climate warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an increase in temperature is unavoidable and can already be ascertained, " said Minister of the Environment Hermann Onko Aeikens. This has implications for many important areas such as water availability and agriculture. "We have to adjust to that without unnecessarily dramatizing, " continued Aeikens.

Already during the development of the vulnerability study the scientists of the PIK exchanged intensively with experts in the state. We aim to publish the two final versions in the second quarter of 2010. But I also stress that both 'living' documents will remain, "continued the Minister. If new findings are available, the strategy will be adapted. New measures can continue to be included in the action plan.

(Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, 21.01.2010 - NPO)