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Prepared for climate change

What are the concrete consequences of climate change for cities like Kiel? And how can damage be averted? A project of the Department of Geography Didactics at the University of Kiel is developing an educational module for climate adaptation in urban areas.

Branches lie on a standing train, two people stand next to it.
© Picture Alliance

Those who can switch to other means of transport in the event of storm damage on railway lines have a clear advantage. Warning systems such as the German government's NINA app or weather apps provide information about the imminent danger of extreme weather events.

"You must be prepared for inconvenience!" With these words, the radio announces that all northbound train service has been suspended due to a storm. "Inconveniences" like this will increase, as heavy rain, storms and floods are to be expected in the wake of climate change. This is already being felt.

Climate change not only manifests itself in slow changes such as rising average temperatures and a global rise in sea level, but also more frequent extreme weather events are the result. And these have an impact on our daily lives. All those whose belongings have been submerged in floods, whose flight has been cancelled, whose car has been destroyed by a falling tree or whose work has been made impossible by a power failure can feel this. "Inconveniences" that can cause immense costs and endanger human lives.

Even if we make every effort now to stop or mitigate climate change, the consequences of climate change cannot be completely prevented. But to what extent they affect life is a question of adaptation. Climate adaptation means making plans and taking action early on to mitigate potential damage. This involves much more than improving coastal protection and strengthening dikes. "An important part of climate adaptation is education," says Professor Wilfried Hoppe of the Institute of Geography. "The better educated and informed the population at the regional level about the consequences of climate change, the more effectively damage can be minimized".

For this reason, a team headed by the Professor of Didactics of Geography is designing an educational module on "Climate Adaptation in Urban Areas" ( "Klimaanpassung in urbanen Räumen", KUR). The project, which is funded by the Federal Environment Ministry, looks at three quarters of the city of Kiel as examples. The aim is to sensitise schoolchildren and citizens to the subject of climate adaptation and to develop materials that can be used in other learning environments and in other cities to develop climate adaptation measures.

Hoppe: "Cities are particularly affected by global warming. The many asphalted areas store solar energy and create islands of heat, which can lead to a health-endangering urban climate. Looking beyond the year 2050, this could well affect Kiel. In this respect, climate adaptation makes sense in order to create spaces worth living in for the coming decades."

One sensible measure to avert damage from heavy rain or heat is, for example, green roofs. Green roofs absorb precipitation and store it in the soil, thus preventing flooding. Green roofs are also advantageous during prolonged hot spells, as they heat up less. In order to supply the city centre with fresh ambient air, fresh air corridors are needed, i.e. free, undeveloped areas that extend from the surrounding countryside into the city centre. Cities in particular, which are located in a boiler area or in conurbations, benefit from the fresh air supply.

The project team will organise workshops in Kiel, integrate climate adaptation into vocational school lessons and launch an ideas competition. Materials will be provided for these project modules to support the thinking and discourse process on the topic of climate change adaptation. The first worksheets for teaching are already ready and can be downloaded from the KUR homepage. "We are cooperating with the Regional Vocational Training Centre (Regionales Berufsbildungszentrum, RBZ) Business in Kiel", says project coordinator Sinja Dittmann. "In an educational workshop there at the end of April, we will be discussing climate adaptation with pupils from the upper school. Most people are familiar with climate protection, but climate adaptation is still relatively unknown.

In a next step, the project team will offer workshops for citizens from Kiel. "Participants are cordially invited to consider how their city can become climate fit in the future", adds project manager Dr. Jana Koerth. "We will provide scientific support for the workshops and evaluate them. From this we can draw conclusions about the extent to which the educational module leads to the generation of ideas for climate adaptation measures and ensure transferability to other cities."

In addition to the print media, KUR is also producing short video clips in cooperation with the Kiel filmmaker Malte Blockhaus (  www.malteblockhaus.de), in which climate impacts and climate adaptation are viewed from various perspectives. And a board game is also in the works. All of this is intended to help increase the ability to act and promote civic involvement. "It's not just about raising awareness, but also about getting people to act", emphasizes Wilfried Hoppe.

Author: Kerstin Nees

Further links:

Project website

Project teaser

Video on climate impacts from the Federal Environment Agency