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Introducing the research group plan B:altic

Climate change is occurring and poses risks for the urban regions of the Baltic Sea coast through rising temperature or extreme weather events for example. Climate change scenarios are accompanied with uncertainties, and the specific local consequences of climate change for urban regions of the Baltic Sea Coast are difficult to predict. Early adaptation measures can reduce the impact of potential threats and may even enable the regions to benefit from potential chances of climate change impacts. Even with a successful reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, inertia within the climate system means that climate change will continue. Therefore, striving for a long-term socio-ecological regional and urban development, it is no longer sufficient to consider only the necessary mitigation measures of climate change, but it becomes also essential to develop comprehensive adaptation strategies. A challenge is to prepare for uncertainty and to become resilient towards unforeseen future impacts of climate change.

The urban regions of the Baltic Sea Coast experience pressures for spatial development, for instance due to their economical activities and functions, their role as transport nodes or as attractive places to live in. In this context questions arise how future land use structures can be planned and how adaptation strategies towards climate change impacts can be developed. In responding to these questions, it is important to account for the complex and manifold interplays within urban regions and with their environment. In this situation, land-use planning is especially challenged to assure and to reach a sustainable structure of land use. Land- use planning, in the form of regional and urban planning, provides a unique venue for integrated and anticipatory approaches and seems, therefore, suitable to adapt land-use to climate change. However, initiatives and measures taken by land-use planning might cause risks and harms in interrelation with future and unforeseen climate change impacts. For example, this might happen through increased land consumption, soil sealing or river regulation interplaying with heavy rain falls and leading
to severe floods.

To achieve a comprehensive analysis of climate change impacts, of their interplays with further ongoing change processes in urban regions and to avoid partial world-views, it is necessary to integrate different scientific disciplines with different perspectives and approaches. Therefore, within the research group plan B:altic, natural, social and planning scientists co-operate intensively. The aim of plan B:altic is to identify and discuss integrative strategies and processes of welfareenhancing, sustainable urban and regional development, explicitly taking into account the uncertainties and knowledge limitations with regards to future local impacts of climate change. Due to its inherent focus on uncertainty, surprises and complexity, we use resilience thinking as a bridging concept in our interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work as well as a guiding principle for the development of adaptation strategies to climate change. To this end, we cooperate closely with an array of planning practitioners and stakeholders in the urban region of Rostock, in northeastern Germany and with a project group in the framework of the Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation (BSSSC). Further case studies include Stockholm and Riga.

 

Head of Research Group: Dr.-Ing. Sonja Deppisch

HafenCity Universität Hamburg
Forschungsnachwuchsgruppe plan B:altic
Überseeallee 16
20457 Hamburg
Germany

sonja.deppisch[at]hcu-hamburg.de
Tel.: +49 40 42827-4508