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Journal of Hydrology 454455 (2012) 6475

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Adaptation of water management to regional climate change in a coastal region Hydrological change vs. community perception and strategies
Helge Bormann a,, Frank Ahlhorn b, Thomas Klenke b
a b

Civil Engineering Department, University of Siegen, Paul-Bonatz-Strasse 9-11, D-57068 Siegen, Germany Centre for Environmental and Sustainability Research (COAST), Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, D-26111 Oldenburg, Germany

a r t i c l e

i n f o

s u m m a r y
The climate scenarios of the IPCC suggest that adaptation to future climate change will be required. The North Sea Region, a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean between Great Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, is particularly affected due to rising sea level and a changing water balance. Water management plays a key role in sustainable management of natural and societal resources. This paper presents a participatory study of community approaches to regional adaptation to climate change. Water management adaptation options to regional climate induced changes until 2050 were developed together with stakeholders for the Wesermarsch County (Northern Germany). Available information on expected regional climate change and a modelling study on hydrological change suggested that adaptation of water management will be required until 2050. A regional stakeholder forum formulated a vision on how the Wesermarsch should look like in 2050. Following the holistic approach of collaborative planning, two stakeholder groups developed an adaptation portfolio on how urban and rural areas could adapt their water management to cope with the expected changes. Since most of the stakeholders do not want the county to undergo signicant changes in terms of landscape and land use, they proposed technical measures to enforce ood protection and enhance the performance of the existing water management system. Adaptation in terms of land use change was not proposed although information on comparable examples from similar regions was available. To justify the proposed adaptation options, available information on expected climate change impacts was used selectively. Uncertainty in model projections was partly ignored to legitimate suggesting inexible (technical) adaptation measures. However, collaborative planning proved to be helpful for a joint adaptation to climate change at the regional scale. Stakeholders as well as scientists took active part in the participatory learning process as required by EU directives. 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 28 February 2012 Received in revised form 8 May 2012 Accepted 25 May 2012 Available online 7 June 2012 This manuscript was handled by Geoff Syme, Editor-in-Chief Keywords: Climate change Regional hydrological change Coastal region Adaptation of water management Participatory process

1. Introduction Climate change is one of the key issues in recent environmental research and studies on sustainable development. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that global warming has accelerated signicantly in the second half of the 20th century, and that humans have caused the dominant part of global warming (IPCC, 2007a). Based on these commonly accepted facts, science and society are debating on how to react to climate change. Two main complementary strategies are recently suggested: (1) to mitigate a future climate change (e.g., by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases) and (2) to adapt to those changes which cannot be mitigated. While mitigation needs to be evaluated on a global scale, adaptation to climate change is a local to regional scale issue
Corresponding author. Tel.: +49 271 7402162; fax: +49 271 7402921.
E-mail address: (H. Bormann). 0022-1694/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

(Fssel, 2007). According to van den Hurk and Jacob (2009), global mean temperature will continue to rise by approximately 0.1 C per decade during the 21st century due to the delayed response of the slow components in the climate system even when greenhouse gas concentrations will not increase from the level reached in 2000. Therefore, independent of the efciency of future mitigation, an adaptation to continuing climate change is necessary if such climate change exceeds current climate variability. Adaptation to climate change, therefore, has raised public interest in the past years, mainly driven by climate related disasters (Fssel, 2007; Krysanova et al., 2010). As a consequence, preliminary national concepts have been setup towards the development of national adaptation strategies (e.g., for Germany: Bundesregierung, 2008). Due to the increasing relevance of adaptation to climate change, the scientic community has paid more attention to this topic in recent years. Publications introduced general concepts and approaches for adaptive planning (e.g., Fssel, 2007) and analysed

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regional possibilities for and limitations of climate change adaptation (e.g., Kabat et al., 2005; de Bruin et al., 2009). Adaptation strategies were compared among different regions and river basins (e.g., Krysanova et al., 2010) as well as their recent status in adaptation planning (e.g., Huntjens et al., 2010). Most authors agreed that adaptation needs to be on regional scale (e.g., Wesselink et al., 2009) and consider different issues (de Bruin et al., 2009; Veraart et al., 2010) such as natural systems, agriculture, economy and water management. Planning the adaptation to climate change requires the use of information on present and future climate conditions. Therefore, most developments of adaptation strategies or concepts are based on future climate projections. According to Fssel (2007), the effectiveness of proactive adaptation to climate change is expected to depend on the accuracy of regional climate and impact projections when following a top-down approach. The uncertainty in future climate can be one of the most important barriers for climate change adaptation (Krysanova et al., 2010). Consequently, the question that arises is how to incorporate uncertain scenarios into the process of adaptation planning (Cohen et al., 2006). Some authors argue that additional information provided by climate model ensembles and scenarios is valuable for understanding the possible ranges of future conditions. Such information might enable decision-makers to compare the (dis-)advantages of different adaptation options and their timing (e.g., Lopez et al., 2009). Other studies object that policy makers prefer to stick to one single climate change scenario (Veraart et al., 2010). Nevertheless, acceptance of uncertainty and dealing exibility with variable projections should be one quintessence of adaptive planning. Blschl and Montanari (2010) emphasised the uncertainty in the assessment of climate change effects. They argue that there should not be too much condence in any simulation of rainfallrunoff driven oods in a changed climate which are mostly used as basis for the development of water management concepts. While Blschl and Montanari (2010) do not provide alternatives, they pronounce the need for better uncertainty estimation and promote to effectively communicate any uncertainty to the end users of their simulation products (e.g., peak ows, water balance terms). One sector which is mostly considered within climate adaptation studies is the water sector (e.g., Woltjer and Al, 2007; de Bruin et al., 2009; Lopez et al., 2009; Wesselink et al., 2009; Huntjens et al., 2010; Krysanova et al., 2010; Veraart et al., 2010). Some authors argue that climate change will only transform boundary conditions for water managers only (e.g., van Beek, 2009). On the one hand, many stakeholders as well as experts perceive water related risks (e.g., oods, droughts) as most serious impact of climate change (Veraart et al., 2010). Correspondingly, many studies conclude that a closer cooperation between water management and spatial planning is required (Woltjer and Al, 2007; Aerts and Droogers, 2009; Veraart et al., 2010). Furthermore, fresh water plays a particular role in coastal regions (Bormann et al., 2009; Veraart et al., 2010). In low lying coastal areas such as The Netherlands and Northwest Germany, water management is crucial due to the interactions between fresh water and salt water, storm tides and river oods as well as seasonal variations in fresh water availability. In terms of climate change, these regions will further be faced with rising sea levels and a likely hydrological change characterised by increasing frequencies and intensities of oods and droughts (e.g., Ludwig and Moench, 2009; Bormann et al., 2009). Based on such expectations, an adaptation of coastal water management in accordance with the European Water Framework Directive (EC, 2000), an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (EC, 2002) and Flood Risk Management Directive (EC, 2007) is urgently required. These EC documents emphasise an intense involvement of stakeholders in terms of participation and collaborative planning of management plans.

In this study, the importance of hydrological projections as well as their conceptualisation is analysed with respect to their perception by a community of stakeholders from water related sectors in the Wesermarsch County, Northwest Germany. Projections of a regional climate model are used to quantify possible future hydrological change in the region which might necessitate an adaptation of the regional water management. In the last century, the Wesermarsch County has continuously been affected by river engineering. Therefore, adaptation of water management to changing hydrological conditions has a long history since rst rectication of the Weser River around the 1890s. Previous research shows that stakeholders are an indispensable part for the process of developing regional adaptation strategies (Cohen, 1997; Cohen et al., 2006; Fssel, 2007; de Bruin et al., 2009; Huntjens et al., 2010; Krysanova et al., 2010). They are already an explicit part of the implementation process of the European Water Framework Directive (EC, 2000) and recommended to be involved in the implementation of an Integrated Coastal Zone Management plan (EC, 2002) and for the implementation, review and updating of ood risk maps and plans according to the Flood Risk Management Directive (EC, 2007). Social learning processes in stakeholder networks have been proposed to be powerful in coastal issues such as water management (Walker et al., 2002; Berkhout et al., 2006; Pahl-Wostl et al., 2007) and coastal protection (Ahlhorn, 2009). Within such a participation process, an adaptation strategy for regional scale water management has been developed by a group of stakeholders, experts and scientists in the framework of the Climate Proof Areas (CPA) project (EU Interreg IVB North Sea Region). Based on a description of the process and the results gained from the CPA project, we try to elaborate the impact of the available information on expected hydrological change on the result of the participation process in terms of adaptation options. We analyse the way how the information provided during the process was used, and we end up with conclusions on the information management within such a participation process to develop a regional climate change adaptation strategy (Fig. 1). This is the rst study which analyses this context in the eld of water management in Germany while Ahlhorn (2009) performed similar analyses for the coastal protection sector.

2. Materials and method 2.1. Climate Proof Areas project The Climate Proof Areas project (CPA; 20082011) was funded by the European Community in the framework of the Interreg IVB North Sea Region programme. CPA aimed to develop regional climate change adaptation strategies in the North Sea Region. It united partners of ve European countries (Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Sweden). According to Kabat et al. (2005), climate proong is understood by CPA as a means to reduce risks to a quantied level which is accepted by society and/or economy. The project brought together a variety of partners with different viewpoints on how to deal with climate change impacts. The partners were in different stages in terms of development and implementation of adaptation strategies (Fig. 2). The Belgian partner (Gent University) was in the stage of analysis and identifying the climate change impact issue. Partners of Sweden (SGI, SMHI, Municipality of Arvika, County of Vrmland), Germany (University of Oldenburg) and The Netherlands (Province of Zeeland, Municipality of Schouwen-Duiveland, Deltares, Rijkswaterstaat) were in the process of developing adaptation policies to climate change and translating this towards implementation. The UK partners (National Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Wildlife BCNP) have formulated various policies in this eld and were in


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Fig. 1. Structure of the presented study; rectangles: stakeholder based development of adaptation options to climate change; circles: information management analysed in this study.

Fig. 2. Different stages of the pilot locations within the process of developing and implementing adaptation measures within the CPA project; BE: Belgium, DE: Germany, GB: Great Britain, NL: The Netherlands, SE: Sweden.

Fig. 3. Pilot areas within the Climate Proof Areas project. 14: Schouwen Duiveland and Oosterschelde (The Netherlands); 5 and 6: Wesermarsch (rural, urban; Germany); 79: Great Fen, Wicken Fen, Titchwell Marsh (Great Britain); 10: Arvika (Sweden).

the stage of implementation. The above mentioned activities of different project partners were located at specic project areas where pilot studies were carried out (Fig. 3; for details see The focus of this study was set on the German pilot region Wesermarsch County. The CPA project is suitable to tackle the question of climate change adaptation since different stages of the adaptation process can be analysed at the same time which usually is not possible in one single region. In addition, CPA reects different (national) attitudes how to deal with participation which formally is required in all countries in the same way due to the implementation of

different EC directives such as the Water Framework Directive (EC, 2000).

2.2. Study area: Wesermarsch County The Wesermarsch County was selected as German pilot area within the CPA project. The county serves as an example for many regions along the North Sea coast and in estuaries, lying below or around sea level. The Wesermarsch County has continuously been affected by river engineering activities in the last century in order to enable an economic development along the Weser River. Thus,

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adaptation to hydrological change has been an important topic in the region at least since the rst Weser River rectication in the 1890s. Furthermore, the stakeholders of the region were willing to actively participate in such a participatory process since water management plays a central role in further regional development. The Wesermarsch County (822 km2 in size, called Wesermarsch henceforth) is located in Northwest Germany. The county has a population of about 92,000 people (year 2009) and, except the Weser ports Brake and Nordenham, is primary rural. 95% of the area is used for agriculture (from which 90% is grassland, mainly for dairy cattle). The Wesermarsch, also referring to the landscape of the County, is located between Jade Bay in the west, North Sea in the north and Weser River in the east. As a result, the topographic situation is similar to a peninsula (Fig. 4). The topography is predominantly at (elevations between 2 m and 5 m above sea level), and soils are generally either ne textured (marsh soils) or organic (peat). In order to safeguard the region against storm tides, dikes have been constructed for centuries and continuously heightened to reduce the risk of ooding. The climate is humid and temperate all over the year (approximately 700 mm annual precipitation; HAD, 2003), showing a precipitation maximum in summer and a mean annual temperature of about 9.0 C. Due to the physiographic characteristics, tidal dynamics (3 m mean tidal range), the intense agricultural use and, locally, habitation and industry, the Wesermarsch County is faced with several hydrological challenges. In winter time, water needs to be drained from the area in order to avoid ooding. In order to minimise the energy amount required for pumping, the region is drained during low tide as fare as possible. Contrarily, in summer time, the region suffers from a water decit which needs to be compensated, to avoid drying out of marsh water bodies. For this purpose, during high tide, fresh water from the Weser River is conveyed into the canal system of the Wesermarsch, regulated by the water boards. Due to the peninsula-like situation, deepening of the Weser River for shipping and the intense drainage of low-lying areas, salinisation of surface and groundwater bodies are increasing problems. In order to regulate water surplus and decits, a traditional water management system has been developed in the last centuries. A dense network of ditches, channels, barriers, sluices and pumping stations has been established in order to regulate groundand surface water levels in the region. Water management played and still plays an important role to guarantee the usability of the land for agricultural and industrial purposes as well as for habitation. Currently, six water boards are responsible for water management in the Wesermarsch: Braker Sielacht, Entwsserungsverband Stedingen, Entwsserungsverband Jade, Entwsserungsverband Butjadingen, Stadlander Sielacht, and Moorriem-Ohmsteder Sielacht. Together with two dike boards (I and II Oldenburgischer Deichband), they are organised within one umbrella organisation (Kreisverband Wesermarsch der Wasser- und Bodenverbnde: but generally decide individually on how to regulate water levels and ows within their respective areas. All land owners in the Wesermarsch are compulsory members of the boards. And executives of the water boards are elected by the members. 2.3. Participatory approach According to the IPCC (2007b), adaptation is the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits benecial opportunities. The adaptive capacity can be increased, e.g., by including adaptation measures in land use planning and infrastructure design. Since regional scale adaptation planning must integrate stakeholders (e.g., Dresdner and Gilbert, 1999; EC, 2003; Feindt and Newig, 2005; Kloprogge and van der Sluijs,

2006; Gezelius and Refsgaard, 2007; Patel et al., 2007), an integrative and participatory process was organised in this study to develop a regional scale adaptation options for the Wesermarsch. One reason is that adaptation can amplify existing conicts between actors (Adger et al., 2005). 2.3.1. Determination of the focus issue and selection of stakeholders In the early beginning, representatives of regional scale organisations (GOs, NGOs) were contacted by the authors and asked for participation in a rst meeting. This meeting was held to identify a common focus issue for adaptation planning and to identify further relevant stakeholders for the process of developing regional scale adaptation options. This study aimed at a bottom-up approach in terms of participation in order to make use of the available knowledge on the region, on its specic issues and possible solutions. In accordance with Aerts and Droogers (2009), the stakeholders agreed that climate change in terms of sea level rise, heavy rainfall and droughts would have implications on the hydrological processes of coastal regions. Therefore, the regional stakeholders came to the conclusion to set the focus on water management (ood control, drainage and watering) while developing a regional adaptation strategy to climate change for the Wesermarsch. Without an adequate adaptation of water management, the impact of climate change on socio-economic sectors could be expected to be signicantly more severe. 2.3.2. Regional forum Based on the suggestions of the stakeholder group, in a rst step, a regional stakeholder forum was established consisting of water managers, farmers, urban and regional planners, civil servants from different administrative levels, conservationists, and scientists (for a detailed list of member organisations see Table 1). The regional forum aimed at the development of an inventory of recent water related problems, possible solutions and the identication of actors to be further integrated in this process. By mutual agreement, all stakeholders agreed upon a time horizon of adaptation planning for the year 2050. In a second step, expert interviews were carried out individually with all stakeholders in order to ensure the consideration of their institutional and personal point of views on recent and future problems, solutions and visions without being confronted to other stakeholders with different interests. The results in terms of water related problems (see Table 2), solutions and drawbacks were then presented to the entire regional forum and jointly evaluated by the participants. In a third step, the authors of this study presented the current knowledge on regional climate change (see Section 3.2) and its implications on regional hydrological processes (see Section 3.3) to the regional forum to provide basic information for this collaborative planning process. In order to consider the different sector specic views on the future of the county, all members of the regional forum were invited to contribute to a joint Wesermarsch vision 2050. During one of the workshops, all participants were asked to describe their individual ideas on a future development of the Wesermarsch until year 2050. Subsequently, the regional forum was divided into two focus groups in order to separately develop complementary adaptation strategies for urban and rural areas. Afterwards, both groups were re-joined to the regional forum to inform each other on the progress, to merge the ndings of the rural and urban focus groups and, nally, to agree on a joint regional strategy on how to cope with possible future changes. Such stakeholder engagement from the rst steps in a climate adaptation process is unique within the sector water management in low lying coastal areas. Traditionally, the attitude of water management is the provision of services for different types of land use, e.g. efcient drainage of surface water to support the agricultural


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Fig. 4. Topography of and cities within the Wesermarsch County. Source: Regierungsvertretung Oldenburg (regional representation of the state government); translated.

use of the area. Within this participatory approach, the water managers have elaborated on and communicated about their specic interests, needs and challenges. On the one hand, the infrastructure of the water boards, e.g. sluices, locks, pumping stations, has been installed in the middle of the last century and needs to be

improved. On the other hand, the nancial support of the federal state government and responsible authorities decreased continuously. As self-organised associations, water boards have to rely on the fee paid by their members. The CPA approach on water management facilitates a communication process for an integrated

H. Bormann et al. / Journal of Hydrology 454455 (2012) 6475 Table 1 Stakeholder (respective organisations), integrated in the participatory process of developing an adaptation strategy for the regional water management. Sector Administration Participating organisations County Wesermarsch Municipality Butjadingen Regional representation of the state government Chamber of agriculture Peasantry Dike boards NLWKN (State Agency) NGO: BUND National park authority NLWKN (State Agency) City of Brake (urban planning) Wesermarsch County (spatial planning) Company for regional economic development (Wirtschaftsfrderung Wesermarsch) OOWV drinking water supplier OOWV sewage operator Water boards NLWKN (State Agency)


et al., 2006). Based on WETTREG, projections for three different SRES scenarios are available (A1B, A2, B1). 2.5. Simulation of hydrological change Based on the climate projections, hydrological change can be projected by applying a hydrological model. Physically based models are expected to be suited best to reproduce future hydrological conditions (Elfert and Bormann, 2010). The 1-D physically based model SIMULAT (Diekkrger and Arning, 1995; Bormann, 2008) was applied to the available climate scenarios from the WETREG model. SIMULAT is based on the Richards equation representing the unsaturated ow and the Penman-Monteith equation for potential evapotranspiration. The model requires information on climate (temperature, air humidity, radiation, and wind speed), soil conditions (soil texture and bulk density), vegetation type/land use and topography. SIMULAT has already been used in several climate change impact studies (e.g., Bormann, 2009, 2011) and could be validated at different spatial scales and for different physiographic regions without any model calibration (Diekkrger et al., 1995; Aden and Diekkrger, 2000; Giertz et al., 2006; Bormann, 2008). Model parameterisation was based on typical regional soil properties (marsh soils) and land use characteristics (grassland). 3. Results 3.1. Climate change projections The results from the regional scale climate model WETTREG show that due to the selected time horizon (2050) the variations among these scenarios are relatively small compared to the differences between current conditions (=base line) and the three available scenarios (Fig. 5). Accordingly, the results of analysing the A1B scenario were selected as input for this study. The A1B scenario is a rather pessimistic one and describes relatively well the development of the change in global temperature since the year 2000 (IPCC, 2007a). The investigation of time series for four climate stations around the Wesermarsch and the nine rain gauges located in the Wesermarsch revealed consistent climate trends. For the year 2050, WETTREG projects an increase in temperature of $1 C and an increase in winter precipitation (+25% from December to February) while summer precipitation is expected to decrease by 15% (from June to August). Similarly, average wind speed is expected to increase in winter and decrease in summer while sunshine duration is expected to increase in summer (Table 3). 3.2. Projected hydrological change Driving SIMULAT model with WETTREG data resulted in increasing runoff rates in winter and an increasing water decit during summer months (Fig. 6). Changes in the simulated water balance can be interpreted as changes in water volumes to be additionally drained (winter) or watered (summer), respectively. While in winter runoff generation increases by 10 mm per month until year 2050 (scenario A1B), water decit during summer months increases by approximately 10 mm per month (scenario A1B), as well. Similar to the climate projections, for the selected time horizon (year 2050), the differences among the three investigated climate scenarios were smaller than the differences between baseline and scenarios. In the second half of the 21st century, the hydrological projections based on the SIMULAT model signicantly diverge for the different scenarios as the climate projections do in terms of seasonal precipitation (Bormann et al., 2009). While an evaluation of maximum values of simulated runoff generation is not recommended due to limited temporal resolution of the

Agriculture Coastal protection Nature conservation

Planning Regional economy Water management

Table 2 Regional water related problems caused or worsened by climate change, suggested by the regional stakeholder forum. Upper part: problems specic to sub-regional water boards. Water board 1 Impervious surfaces Compensation Retention of rainfall Water board 2 Water board 3 Water storage capacity Salinisation Rural sewage system Soil mineralisation (peat)

Water storage capacity Salinisation Rural sewage system Tourism General problems (independent of water boards) Drainage and watering (capacity, costs) Organisational structures, civil protection EC directives (WFD, FRMD, FFH) Water quality, shery Coastal protection Infrastructure, compensation

way of thinking and working on solutions for future developments, such as climate change and its likely impacts on the hydrological conditions. 2.4. Climate scenarios In order to think about adaptation to future hydrological conditions such as extreme ows as well as the hydrological regime, projections are required which compare current conditions (average, variability) with possible future conditions. Even a look back to available past observations is often helpful as changes also occurred in the last century (Ludwig and Moench, 2009; IPCC, 2007a,b). For example for the Weser River, Petrow and Merz (2009), Bormann (2010) and Bormann et al. (2011) concluded that both, extreme ows as well as the hydrological regime showed an enormous variability since observations started. Recent changes, observed since 1950, did not exceed the variability in historical observations since the early 19th century. In order to assess a possible future climate change, regional climate projections of the WETTREG model (Weather Type Based Regional Climate Model; Spekat et al., 2007) were used, which generates station based time series. WETTREG is a stochastic downscaling approach which determines the frequency of specic weather types from global climate models (ECHAM5 in this case). Subsequently, the model simulates station specic weather time series. A comparative investigation of different regional climate models showed that WETTREG is applicable to project average conditions as well as the seasonal variability adequately (Bronstert


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Mean monthly air temperature [C]


control (1981-2000) A1B (2041-2060) A2 (2041-2060) B1 (2041-2060)



0 Jan 80 Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Mean monthly precipitation [mm]




control (1981-2000) A1B (2041-2060) A2 (2041-2060) B1 (2041-2060)

Jan Feb Ma r Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec



Fig. 5. Climate projections for the climate station Bremerhaven (WETTREG) for the time period 20412060 compared to the base line (19812000); scenarios A1B, A2, B1.

Table 3 Expected regional climate change effects in the Wesermarsch County (time horizon 2050). Expected changes based on the WETTREG scenarios (Spekat et al., 2007) Average air temperature Winter precipitation Summer precipitation Wind speed Sunshine duration Annual evapotranspiration Runoff generation Sea level +1 C +25% 15% Increase in winter Decrease in summer +0.5 to 1 h/day +5 to 7% +25% in winter Decit in summer +20 to 40 cm

periods with negative water balance (not shown). The average values as well as standard deviations increase for all scenarios while A1B and A2 scenarios show a stronger increase compared to the B1 scenario. An overview on expected (possible) climatic and hydrological changes is given in Table 3. Information on (possible) hydrological change was presented to the stakeholder forum. It was further used to (1) raise awareness that the amounts of water to be drained and watered will probably change in the coming decades and to (2) be able to estimate additional volumes of water to be managed by a revised water management system. 3.3. Results of the participation process

climate scenarios (LAWA, 2010), WETTREG scenarios are appropriate to be used for analysing long-term water decits in terms of runoff generation (Bronstert et al., 2006). Analysing the simulation results reveals an expected increase in maximum water decits during summer time (Fig. 7) as well as in maximum duration of

The development of multifunctional land use options for the Wesermarsch was taken into account due to the cross-sectoral composition of the regional forum. Although agriculture dominates the county, several other sectors such as nature protection, industry and tourism have specic interests in the future development

Monthly water balance: P ET [mm]

60 50 40 30 20 10 0 -10 -20 Jan Feb Mar Apr

control (1981-2000) A1B (2041-2060) A2 (2041-2060) B1 (2041-2060)









Fig. 6. Water balance projections (precipitationevapotranspiration) of SIMULAT model based on Bremerhaven climate projections (WETTREG) for the time period 2041 2060 compared to the base line (19812000); scenarios A1B, A2, B1.

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6 5 4 3 2 1 0


6 5 4 3 2 1 0


6 5 4 3 2 1 0

effect on the hydrological cycle (Section 3.3) the landscape vision represented the main boundary condition for the adaptation planning process. Based on this Wesermarsch vision 2050, the climate scenarios and the likely impacts on the hydrological conditions, two focus groups developed and discussed different adaptation options for the water management. They focused on the needs of a rural and an urban pilot area. In both cases, the focus groups favoured to compose an adaptation portfolio, consisting of a set of parallel, possible adaptation measures, instead of developing a comprehensive adaptation strategy (comparable to Cohen et al., 2006). Since the stakeholders vision for the year 2050 did not aim for changes in the landscape and the dominant agricultural land use, the recommended adaptation measures were based on technical solutions (Table 5) although adaptation examples from similar environments were presented to the members of the regional forum. These measures include changes in land use and spatial planning and accepting or even retaining water on land (e.g., the Deltaplan (, The Netherlands; the Room for the river programme (, The Netherlands; the Comcoast project: Combined Functions in Coastal Defence Zones ( The proposed adaptation options, however, complied with the currently applied water management guidelines of the water boards. Most of the stakeholders denied planning the development of stagnant water bodies in the landscape in order to provide additional water storage due to expected problems in water quality and waterborne diseases. Instead, they suggested to enhance the performance of existing pumping stations despite an expected increase in energy costs. In general, the problem of future drainage of rural area was rated to be less important than the watering issue. The water board representatives agreed that present water management is organised too much focusing on the individual water board areas. They assumed that a better cooperation among neighboured water boards would increase the exibility of future water management and would reduce the system vulnerability. In order to extend the watering system, technical measures were proposed, exclusively (Table 5), and used as basis for the common vision on future water management in the county (Ahlhorn et al., 2011). 4. Discussion

Fig. 7. Projections on future regional water decits based on SIMULAT model using climate projections (WETTREG) for the station Bremerhaven (time period 2041 2060, compared to the base line (19812000)); scenarios A1B, A2, B1.

Max. annual water deficit [cm WC]

Max. annual water deficit [cm WC]

Max. annual water deficit [cm WC]

of the region and its landscape. In order to consider the different sector specic views on the future, all members of the regional forum were invited to contribute to the joint Wesermarsch vision 2050. During one of the workshops all participants were asked to describe their personal ideas on a future development of the Wesermarsch until year 2050. Table 4 summarises the main elements mentioned during that process. In agreement with Nassauer and Corry (2004), the members of the regional forum do not want the region to change signicantly. They want continuity with respect to landscape, land use (agriculture), coastal protection and working conditions. Together with the information on the expected regional climate change (Section 3.2) as well as its likely

After having conducted the participation process of developing an adaptation strategy with respect to climate change, four essential questions arose with respect to the use and the impact of the information provided during the participation process. (1) How was information on climate change and its effects on the regional hydrological cycle (sea level, hydrological processes), as provided by the scientists, adopted by the nonscientic sectors as represented in the group of stakeholders? A similar question was also asked by Cohen et al. (2006): how should governments, communities, and the private sector incorporate uncertain scenarios into their planning? Adaptation to climate change in such a participation process requires attention

Table 4 Crucial sectors of the stakeholders vision of how the Wesermarsch County should look like in year 2050. Sector Landscape Agriculture Job market Coastal protection Vision Preservation of the current state of the landscape (open, grassland dominated, dairy cattle) Competitive agriculture should be possible as it is now Jobs should be safe in future; focus is set on agriculture, tourism and harbour related economy Future life behind the dike should be at least as safe as it is now. Reduction of compensation requirements of coastal protection measures


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Table 5 Portfolio of possible water management adaptation measures. Rural pilot area Increase in water storage capacity Improved drainage capacity Storm ood protection Maintaining watering Heightening of inland dikes Deepening inland channels Sediment removement Heightening of inland dikes Heightening of dikes Storm barriers (Weser, Jade) Installation of a freshwater polder Installation of an additional drinking water system for agricultural water demand Freshwater system Jade Bay Extension of the historic watering channel Improved cooperation among water boards Drainage and watering considering topography Urban pilot area city as a sponge schemes (green roofs, multifunction use of parking areas, lakes) Retention in the Hinterland: additional polders Establishment of ood ways Additional sluice Storm barriers (Weser, Jade) Not necessary


and action by people who have not explicitly considered climate in their past decisions (Fssel, 2007). In agreement with Veraart et al. (2010), the Wesermarsch stakeholders preferred to consider only one single climate change scenario. The joint agreement on the selected time horizon (year 2050) supported this tendency as scenarios on climate and hydrology do not differ signicantly for that time horizon. Thus, stakeholders were implicitly involved in the scenario selection process which is important in order to avoid suspicion among stakeholders (Cohen, 1997). This decision excluded considering the uncertainty as an excuse for not taking (innovative) action (Huntjens et al., 2010). Wesselink et al. (2009) stated that scenario estimates are uncertain while some best guess gures need to be chosen as a working hypothesis. Although the provided information on possible future changes is uncertain, stakeholders were asking for specic information for their own purpose and their eld of competence. Almost all attending stakeholders were well informed on the issue that climate is changing, but they expressed the need of information on the regional hydrological implications of global scenarios and projections. (2) Which information was relevant for the participatory process? According to Veraart et al. (2010), stakeholder perception is often based on a rather undened hypothetical problem sketch of climate change. Consequently, it was important to provide numbers describing regional climate change (precipitation, in particular) and its regional hydrological impacts (runoff generation, sea level rise). However, stakeholders in many cases were not able to interpret these numbers in respect to likely environmental processes and to implications for intended uses. Stakeholders also tend to trust local knowledge and individual experience more than in science (Cohen, 1997). The dialogue between scientist and stakeholders including the combination of hydrological process knowledge and local knowledge was therefore very important as stressed by Cohen et al. (2006). Despite the different backgrounds, in agreement with Veraart et al. (2010), the stakeholders identied the same major problems compared to the authors of this study. Thus, the provided scientic information on regional climate and hydrological change for the Wesermarsch was actively adjusted to both the existing local and regional experiences and to hydrological knowledge on different impacts such as sea level rise and wind speed. (3) Is there any information which was ignored by the stakeholders? The Wesermarsch stakeholders did not explicitly ignore information provided by the authors. However, regional water managers

refused to think about climate adaptation under consideration of different projections of sea level rise. Instead of thinking about more exible adaptation options the stakeholders debated on the different numbers. This discussion was biased by the impression on the personality of researchers some of the stakeholders got when participating in different national meetings on coastal protection in the southern German Bight. The stakeholders tended to judge the reliability of data on such impression rather than on scientic integrity. The identied most probable number in year 2050 was then used to develop less exible adaptation options later on. Such procedure does not conform to the key indicators of adaptation actions according to Adger et al. (2005), namely robustness and exibility. Another critical topic which emerged during the discussion was the impact of stagnant water bodies on the possible development of waterborne diseases and insects. For a long time, the inhabitants of the Wesermarsch defended against the formation of stagnant water bodies due to the socio-cultural memory that a century ago malaria could be extinct in the region through closing water bodies. Hence, people do not want to have lakes and reservoirs even if only present for days or some weeks although in neighboured counties lakes are present today, without the consequence of malaria. (4) Are the recommendations developed by the regional forum reasonable? The recommendations of the regional forum aiming on a minimisation of change in the Wesermarsch are in accordance to observations of Nassauer and Corry (2004). However, staying with traditional landscapes is in contrast to many other (mostly scientic) studies on climate change adaptation in the water sector in comparable regions. For example, Kabat et al. (2005) highlighted the opportunities of climate change for the agricultural sector, stressing the possibility to diversify agricultural activities and move away from traditional agriculture such as dairy farming on low-lying peat land. Such examples were ignored by the Wesermarsch stakeholders. In agreement with Veraart et al. (2010) the Wesermarsch stakeholders highlighted the necessity of future fresh water availability for agriculture. Similarly, they supported the increase of the pumping capacity. However, their suggestions are not conform to tendencies in Dutch water management, gradually shifting away from its emphasis on technical measures (Woltjer and Al, 2007). In contrast to the Wesermarsch stakeholders, Dutch water management and local inhabitants, as well, accept water on land temporarily rather than blocking it out consequently (e.g., Deltaplan, Room for the river programme). According to Woltjer and Al (2007), technical measures like dams, canals, ditches and pumping stations are no longer adequate solutions given impending problems related to climate change.

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This study highlights the strong need to explore and to use new ways in water management and to modify the established water management system in presence of climate change. Traditions in water management have an emphasis on the reduction of complexity in general. They tend to externalise the human dimension and to design technical systems that can be controlled. Such approaches result quite often in rigid and inexible management systems that do not perform well in times of uncertainty and change (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2007). This study also highlights that an integrated and adaptive water management asks for profound structural changes with an inclusion of the comprehensive socioecological sphere. The human dimension becomes more crucial in the performance of such an adaptive water management. Social learning, dened as learning in a social context (learning from each other, including observational learning, imitation and modelling), is one key factor to govern the management successfully (Walker et al., 2002; Berkhout et al., 2006). Participatory methods can support social learning in actor groups. Learning environments are perceived to be essential for the adaptive governance (Pahl-Wostl et al., 2007) and the collaborative planning of adaptation of socialecological systems (Agger and Lfgren, 2008). However, this study revealed three phenomena making such societal approaches on climate adaptive water management challenging. (i) Individual stakeholders differ in their knowledge on possible climate change impacts. Their involvement in a regional adaptation strategy requires information on possible climate change impacts catered to the individuals. Although the various face to face meetings of scientists and the stakeholders were intended to identify knowledge gaps and to provide tailored information, the information provided in terms of climate scenarios and hydrological impacts was differently used, perceived and demanded by the stakeholders. Therefore, participation processes do not necessarily ensure an optimal use of such scientic information. This is in agreement with Krysanova et al. (2010) reporting on coexistent strengths and weaknesses of available information on climate change. While people in most cases do not think that they are restrained by a lack of data, at the same time lack of information seems to hamper moving ahead (Krysanova et al., 2010). Such behaviour is also reected by further studies emphasising that on the one hand multiple climate projections provide auxiliary information on the possible range of future development (Lopez et al., 2009) while decision makers tend to stick to one scenario in order to avoid such uncertainty (Veraart et al., 2010). (ii) Many studies stress the importance of including stakeholders in the adaptation planning process (e.g., Cohen, 1997; Janssen et al., 2006; Kloprogge and van der Sluijs, 2006; Huntjens et al., 2010). They also emphasise the importance of local knowledge for the adaptation process (Cohen et al., 2006). This study conrms the importance to integrate local water managers into such a process developing an adaptation strategy. In the Wesermarsch example, only the local water managers comprehend the current water management practice which is not well documented in many cases (Ahlhorn et al., 2010). All other stakeholders rated them as essential members of the regional forum. (iii) Science is not in every case able to provide that kind of information which is demanded by the stakeholders, independent of the real importance of such information for tackling the climate change adaptation issue. Inconvenient information is often refused by the stakeholders. They tend to trust local knowledge more than science (Cohen, 1997). Traditional thinking (and acting) is favoured (in order to avoid change). Nevertheless, there is an urgent need for a better cooperation of water management and planning as already done in the Netherlands (Woltjer and Al, 2007). An integrative and participatory process as presented in this study by establishing the regional stakeholder forum for collaborative adaptation planning

may contribute to improve the cooperation. It can bridge the gap between top-down and bottom-up approaches to adaptation (de Bruin et al., 2009). Only bottom-up processes can consider regional scale knowledge in climate adaptation processes while top-down approaches such as EC directives (e.g., Water Framework Directive; Flood Risk Management Directive) and EC recommendations (e.g., ICZM) are required to set common boundary conditions to climate adaptation. Climate adaptation management with an associated paradigm shift in regional water management is a long lasting societal endeavour. The multi-actor process within the study region has only been started. This does not imply that a consensus is or must be achieved, but what is present is a minimum level of trust as a basis for transparent and efcient communication between the members of the regional forum and the scientists. On the other hand, the collaborative planning process of the regional forum provided an added-value to the members which are relational rewards as stated by Olsson (2009). He revealed that attendees of such processes can generate relational rewards which may provide a good basis to reduce conicts in future planning processes. Future learning processes of the involved actors will deepen their mutual dependence. They demonstrate how their own frames of reference inuence and constrain their thinking and that other legitimate frames of reference exist (Pahl-Wostl, 2007).

5. Conclusion In agreement with EC directives and recommendations such as the Water Framework and Flood Risk Management Directives and the recommendation on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe, this study has shown that a participation process to climate change adaptation is a suitable approach to combine scientists (hydrologists) and stakeholders knowledge. It is further appropriate to initiate both a collaborative planning and a social learning process. Based on information on expected future climate change impacts, provided by scientists and previous stakeholder experience, focus groups emerging from the group of stakeholders developed water management adaptation options for a coastal region. These options diverged from the IPCC recommendations. Stakeholders were aiming at keeping their area like it is nowadays by adapting technical measures instead of adapting land use concepts. They preferred to discuss adaptation options for a time horizon which exhibits small uncertainties in projected climate change impacts, although the region has a long tradition in adaptation to changing hydrological conditions due to river engineering. As a consequence, adaptation options focused on technical solutions instead on exible planning approaches. Such information was used which tted best to those technical adaptation options retaining traditional ways of regional water management. One important limitation of this study is the use of the projections of only one regional climate model. Thus, the uncertainty in the climate inputs to this process of developing adaptation options was not fully represented in an explicit way. However, as concluded by all European partners of the CPA project, reliable regional scale climate projections of independent atmospheric models are scarce in many regions even in Europe ( We conclude that the use of available information on (hydrological) climate change impacts is very selective with respect to the individual and subjective vision on how the future should look like in a region. Nevertheless, most of the participants took part in the participatory social learning process and accepted some compromise as a result of constructive discussion. For example, all water board representatives agreed to intensify the regional cooperation for an improved and more exible future water management. They are aware that water management can be a suitable driver for inte-


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