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09 December 2021

Adapting the ports to climate change is an ongoing task

The PortKLIMA project identifies the effects of climate change

How vulnerable are the German seaports owing to the consequences of climate change? What strategies and measures have to be implemented in response to these consequences? This is the central question addressed by PortKLIMA, a project supported by bremenports. The final project report entitled “Seaports and climate change – development and pilot phase implementation of education and training modules on the topic of adaptation to climate change in the planning, construction and operation of seaports in Germany” has now been published.

In view of their geographical situation, seaports are affected particularly severely by the consequences of rising sea levels. Moreover, extreme weather incidents such as extreme heat, heavy rainfall and strong winds can seriously disrupt operations at the ports. One important instrument for successful adaptation to climate change is the ability to assess the extent and the consequences of the individual impacts as early and as correctly as possible. This is essential to identify the measures that are necessary and to implement these measures at the right time. Focal aspects include structural and physical measures, such as the adjustment of flood protection systems. However, staff training and institutional measures, such as reviewing safety regulations, can also provide important impetus for adaptation to the consequences of climate change. Over the next few decades, making the necessary adjustments in response to a changing climate will undoubtedly be an ongoing task, and the implementation of such aspects should ideally be integrated into each individual port development project.

In order to translate the project findings into actual practice, workshops were conducted with port planning experts and engineers and the results have been incorporated in the curriculum for structural engineering students at the Universities of Applied Sciences in Bremen and Wismar. Five factsheets have also been prepared on the following topics:

(1) Rudiments of climate change and climate models
(2) Effects of climate change – present
(3) Effects of climate change – future
(4) Seaports and climate change – developing an adaptation strategy
(5) Climate change mitigation.

Much of the training material created in the course of the PortKLIMA project is freely available (in German) on the project website. Projekts .
The PortKLIMA project was conducted over the last three years under the overall responsibility of the Institute of River and Coastal Engineering at Bremen University of Applied Sciences. The project was sponsored by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety as part of its ‘DAS’ programme for developing a strategy for adaptation to climate change. The other PortKLIMA project participants were the port management companies of the ports in Brake, Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Lübeck, Rostock and Wismar.

The findings of the PortKLIMA project will be taken into account in the strategy for adapting the port facilities in Bremen and Bremerhaven, which is currently being drawn up by bremenports as part of the Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change for Bremen/ Bremerhaven . This is scheduled for completion by the end of 2022 and one of the aims of the strategy is to identify and prepare measures and projects to raise resilience (in particular in the fields of port development, port construction and in connection with compensatory mitigation measures) . The strategy will simultaneously endeavour to promote resilient transport chains (both at sea and on land).