Climate Change Adaptation

At the Danube Ministerial Conference in 2010, the Ministers emphasised that the impacts of climate change will increase and develop into a significant threat in the Danube River Basin if the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is not complemented by climate adaptation measures. In order to be able to take the required steps on adaptation, the ICPDR was asked to develop a Climate Adaptation Strategy for the Danube River Basin until the end of 2012.

Germany was nominated as Lead Country for this activity in the frame of the ICPDR. In this function, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety supported a meta-study with the aim of providing foundations for a common, Danube-wide understanding of future impacts of climate change on water resources and suitable adaptation measures as a basis for the development of the Danube Climate Adaptation Strategy.

This study was elaborated by Prof. Mauser and his team of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Munich. It is solely based on existing studies and projects, no further scenarios or model calculations were carried out.
At a glance, main conclusions include the following:

  • Impacts on water related sectors are triggered by temperature and precipitation changes;
  • Higher temperature is expected with a gradient from northwest to southeast;
  • Generally, seasonal precipitation changes with a decrease in summer and an increase in winter precipitation are expected;
  • Regarding floods, although local and regional increased heavy rainfall might occur, there is no clear picture for changes in flood magnitude and frequency;
  • An increase of water temperature and increased pressures on water quality are expected;
  • Changes for ecosystems and biodiversity are predicted with shifts of the aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna;
  • But also positive effects are projected, such as a reduction of ice days on rivers or longer vegetation periods.

The study also includes an indication of the uncertainty of the predicted changes and impacts next to a summary of possible adaptation measures, what is considered as a further key element for the future discussions in the frame of the ICPDR.

Adaptation to climate change

Possible adaptation measures for water management include preparatory measures for adaptation such as improving forecasting warning systems, ecosystem-based measures such as the restoration of water-retention areas, managerial measures such as the promotion of water-saving behaviour, technological measures such as the development of more efficient irrigation systems in agriculture, and policy approaches such as supporting institutional frameworks to coordinate all of these activities.

The ICPDR and its contracting parties are using the adaptation strategy to decide on adaptation measures as part of the Danube River Basin Management Plan Update 2015, the 1st Floodrisk Management Plan as well as national management plans.