Tools and data for climate resilient cities

11:15 Thursday 30 May


Room S9


Andreas Baumgaertner (Germany) 1; Andreas Schmidt (Germany) 1; Susanne Lorenz (United Kingdom) 2; Annegret Thieken (Germany) 3; Rosmarie De Wit (Austria) 4; Veronika Wirth (Germany) 5; Teresa Zölch (Germany) 5; Jordi Prades Tena (Spain) 6

1 - DLR Project management agency; 2 - Sustainability Research Institute and ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, University of Leeds; 3 - University of Potsdam; 4 - Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Vienna; 5 - City of Munich, Department of Health and Environment; 6 - Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Climate change adaptation research produces a large amount of data and in recent years has increasingly tried to make such data available to practitioners via specific user interfaces.

Municipalities, especially in the context of planning processes, have specific needs for data e.g. for deliberation processes. In transdisciplinary projects, the (municipal) users are brought together with (data-generating) researchers. So far, there is little understanding on how such data and tools actually advance urban adaptation to climate change and what factors influence it. The workshop is therefore intended to enable the exchange of experiences on this issue.

Target audience

This session addresses practitioners in the context of urban planning and urban climate change adaptation researchers. Practitioners will benefit from learning about available data sets, decision support systems, and state-of-the-art computer models on urban climate for decision support. Researchers and practitioners will both gain insights in the ways such data and tools can advance urban adaptation, but also learn about current limitations in using such data in municipal administrations.

Proposed format for the session

After a short introduction four speakers will present research results, experiences and strategies concerning the usability and use of climate change adaptation data.

Subsequently, a discussion with all workshop participants takes place with the aim of learning from successes and failures. We want to identify key factors promoting / hindering the relevance of climate change information for municipalities.

Contributing Authors abstracts

Dr. Andreas Baumgaertner, Dr. Andreas Schmidt, DLR Project Management Agency; Dr. Karsten Hess, Federal Ministry of Education and Research: Introduction Research promoting urban climate resilience

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has put a strong focus on urban climate change adaptation and resilience within its research framework program for a sustainable development called FONA for over a decade. We shortly present some central lessons learnt concerning the societal relevance of research. After that, we describe the aims of the session and its further course.

Susanne Lorenz, Phd, Sustainability Research Institute and ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, University of Leeds, UK: Examining the barriers to using climate projections in local adaptation planning

Understanding the demand for climate information is an integral part of decision-support for climate change adaptation planning. Using data from 54 interviews with German and British adaptation practitioners (collected 2013-2014), this presentation examines the barriers that affect this demand. We show that there is little demand for climate projections in local adaptation planning in either country due to various factors. Firstly, local adaptation practitioners often lack the time, resources or institutional support to engage effectively with climate projections, their scale is not always considered relevant and they are not considered to be sufficiently accessible. Secondly, existing policy, legal and regulatory frameworks hinder the use of climate projections. A change in the regulatory framework in the UK, not only resulted in a decline in the use of climate projections but also in the waning of the climate change adaptation agenda more widely. In Germany, the strictly regulated nature of spatial planning prevents the use of climate projections, due to their inherent uncertainties, despite past and present climate data being widely used. Thus in order to provide tools and information relevant to local adaptation planning we need to be more cognisant of the whole institutional context within which such planning takes place.

Prof. Dr. Annegret Thieken, University of Potsdam, Germany: Climate adaptation – information needs and gaps of urban administrations

Extreme weather events such as heavy precipitation, flooding and heat waves have caused high economic losses in urban areas in Germany and can also have adverse effects on the health of the urban population. To mitigate (future) impacts, urban planning has to better account for such extremes – a task that the project ExTrass (Urban resilience against extreme weather events – typologies and transfer of adaptation strategies of small and medium-sized towns) aims to facilitate and support by identifying entry points of climate adaptation in planning processes, by analyzing development pathways and by delivering data and information tailored to the needs of urban administrations and civil protection. The research approach of the Extrass project will be illustrated using small towns in Germany and heat waves as an example.

Dr. Rosmarie de Wit, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Vienna, Austria: The CLARITY climate service modelling chain supporting urban climate change resilience

By combining different layers of data, climate services aim at translating state-of-the art climate science to information that can efficiently be incorporated in (urban) planning processes. Within the EU-Horizon-2020 funded project CLARITY (, a standardized methodological framework as well as expert knowledge are united in a new generation climate service, specifically designed to assess adaptation measures at the city level under the effects of weather extremes in the context of climate change. To assess these effects, climate indices derived from observations as well as from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate projections are used to determine changes in climate extremes. To address the fine spatial scales (100 m) relevant for urban planning, regional climate model results are downscaled using a dynamical-statistical method. As a result, this modelling chain provides urban microclimate projections and enables climate sensitivity simulations of adaptation measures (e.g. the effect of green roofs, blue infrastructure changes) on the urban scale. Here, the CLARITY-developed modelling chain will be discussed in detail, and results will be shown for the project’s test sites. In addition, the usage of these methods within the CLARITY climate service as well as the connection to urban climate change resilience will be highlighted.

Dr. Veronika Wirth, Dr. Teresa Zölch, City of Munich, Department of Health and Environment: Using urban climate data to implement adaptation in the City of Munich

Climate change has already impacts on the city of Munich, Germany, and further impacts are expected. Observed and expected is an increase of the average air temperatures as well as intensity and frequency of heat events. Also expected is an increase in heavy rain events. As Munich is at the same time a rapidly growing city it is a great challenge to accommodate both this densification and favourable urban climate conditions. Therefore, the city has developed a climate change adaptation strategy and action plan that was adopted by the city council in 2016. An important basis is data on urban climate and climate change from different projects and cooperations. However, the integration of this knowledge into existing spatial planning instruments and processes is a challenge, especially when it comes to mastering the balance between enhancing urban green infrastructure and additional housing demand. The project ‹Future green city – climate resilient quarters in a growing city’ aims at developing recommendations on the implementation of green infrastructure for climate resilient urban development. It uses climate data to quantify and evaluate the benefits of green infrastructure for climate adaptation and identifies planning instruments suitable for strengthening its implementation.

Dr. Jordi Prades Tena, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain):  Communication Strategy for Delivering Effective Climate Services

Since the publication of the European Research and Innovation Roadmap for Climate Services hundreds of climate related projects have been funded by the Horizon 2020 programme and other funding mechanisms. In this context, the

INDECIS project (Integrated approach for the development across Europe of user oriented climate indicators for GFCS high-priority sectors: Agriculture, disaster risk reduction, energy, health, water plus tourism) seeks to contribute to deliver climate services using an effective communication strategy in order to reach both broad audiences and strategic groups as customers interested in particular information, as well as policy-makers responsible for taking decisions to improve climate adaptation, social well-being and sustainability.

From the early steps it is critical to understand the users’ needs and the stakeholders’ requirements. Decision making should be connected to science knowledge so relationships between scientists and official bodies, and between economic sectors and affected communities, are crucial to know what each audience is waiting for under climate change conditions. Contextualization and practical guidance are required to turn data into useful and useable information, and to deliver climate services (Bessembinder et al, 2013) through both classical and social media.

Climate services are “an activity rather than a product” (Klein, 2018). Consequences from a communicative point of view are evident because, like news in the digital age, climate services are a process involving channels and users in a triangle of co-creation.

Climate sciences and communication sciences are closely linked. In fact, in the age of the Anthropocene, climate science rapidly evolved in the risk and the knowledge society thanks to the Information and Communication Technologies. At the end, the value of climate services depends on information provision, dissemination and other forms of communication which are crucial for their success.

To do so instrumental communication (e.g. developing communication skills) is not enough, but a culture of constitutive, organizational, internal communication (e.g. strategic communication) of climate-related bodies, whether they are government institutions, research groups and universities, companies, NGOs, etc., should be strongly implemented.

Climate services are an emerging field still in a building process “marked by contested definitions” (Vaughan et al., 2017). In this turn from climate change information to climate services communication where “providing climate services is a developing paradigm, a ‘voyage of discovery’ (McNie, 2102), INDECIS ( develops a six steps-based communication strategy, namely: “evaluate your situation”; “understand your audience”; “create your message”; “media channels”; “monitors communications”; and “public involvement” (engagement and knowledge brokering).

To do so instrumental communication (e.g. developing communication skills) is not enough, but a culture of constitutive, organizational, internal communication (e.g. strategic communication) of climate-related bodies, whether they are government institutions, research groups and universities, companies, NGOs, etc., should be strongly implemented.