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Resilient soil and water resources,
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Choosing & Using: Climate Change Adaption Scenarios

18 February 2019 - Published by Jens Uvijn

TOPSOIL partners from four European regions joined a 2-day working session in Bremen on 12th – 13th February, to exchange knowledge and experiences on the why and how of choosing and using a certain climate adaptation scenario.

The workshops were organized and facilitated by the Dutch partners of Noorderzijlvest, Hunze & Aa’s and the Province of Drenthe and hosted by our partners from the University of Bremen. Some 25 participants, including hydrologists, scientists, meteorologists and policy advisors, listened to inspirational opening presentations by keynote speakers Arne Spekat (PIK Postdam Climate & Environment) and Hans Hakvoort (Senior Consultant at Water and Information Management HKV).


Having first determined what is meant by a scenario or projection and deciding on the right terminology, initial discussions revolved around how reliable they are, how to apply them and how to involve stakeholders from the beginning. There are divergent expectations and interpretations. How reliable is modelling? When choosing the most suitable scenario the best option seems to be to use global models (harmonized projection models using a unified grid from CORDEX) on a regional scale.


As was made apparent during Hans’ presentation, based on historical data our climate is clearly changing. Each participating TOPSOIL country presented their current strategies regarding climate change adaptation and explained if and why they have chosen for a particular scenario. All cases are based on IPCC data, but with individual approaches in terms of scenario and time plan. There is a great deal of data available and, over the past 15 years or so, increased knowledge has altered the interpretation of data and the information provided. Changes in parameters are confusing.

Many countries base their strategies on ‘a worst-case scenario’, with a need to convince all stakeholders (e.g. politicians, experts, farmers, general public) of the sense of urgency. Governance and organizational structures per country were compared, as well as approaches (top down or bottom up). It depends on the type of organization which steps are taken. Politically structured authorities, such as water boards, approach the subject differently to research institutes.



Regional parameters

As always, communication is a vital aspect, and describing the context in which decisions are made is an important part of engaging with all stakeholders. Each region has its own specific geology, limitations and issues, both past and present, (i.e. drought, rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, groundwater recharge etc.) and these are the defining parameters when choosing a scenario on which to base modelling.

 All in all the were very fruitful discussions and the TOPSOIL participants agreed that it was a valuable exchange of knowledge, experience and concepts. By using climate scenarios, we can calculate which are the best measures to take when adapting to climate change. We should also be aware of potential joint opportunities (e.g. installing ‘climate proof’ constructions when replacing water-related infrastructures) and invest in long-term stakeholder planning.

Further information and a more detailed report on the Climate Change Adaptation Workshop will be shared via the Topsoil website.


Pictures: Leo Devree