Helmholtz Climate Initiative Regional Climate Change and Humans


The regional impacts of climate change are coming into focus

The Earth is currently undergoing a fundamental transformation. The observed global rise in air temperature of more than 1.1 °C since the beginning of industrialisation; the warming of the oceans; the loss of glaciers, ice sheets and snow cover; and global sea-level rise are signs of the significant global warming that has taken place over the past several decades. That being said, the effects of climate change can vary considerably from region to region. This is the scale at which human beings can directly perceive climate change: every human being chiefly notices the regional effects of climate change that directly affect where they live – whether they’re a farmer affected by increasingly frequent droughts, or someone living on the coast, who has to adjust to the rising sea level.   

At this time, there exists a broad consensus in the scientific community that there is a high probability that the current warming of the Earth is mainly due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases and changes in land use. However, the specific impacts on individual regions have not been well understood thus far. There is not sufficient scientific evidence, for example, to determine whether climate change is the cause of drier summers or wetter winters in a certain region. For agricultural use, however, this is the decisive question. By the same token detailed scenarios regarding the rise in global sea level, for instance, are important for political and economic decision-making processes in order to be able to adapt coastal protection measures accordingly.

With regard to REKLIM’s work on regional climate change, another priority is to deliver findings that can be transferred to society. In this way, we can help to arrive at more accurate forecasts for future climate developments, which can in turn promote enhanced climate protection and more effective adaptation measures.

The REKLIM network was founded more than a decade ago, and has established a successful bottom-up strategy for prioritising research questions of social relevance and making its findings available to society at large by pursuing a knowledge transfer approach. In this way, the findings and insights produced can help to optimise adaptation and avoidance strategies, while also offering valuable support for decision-makers.

The research network comprises nine centres of the Research Field Earth and Environment of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany. It covers a broad range of competencies in Earth system research. In addition, the network is complemented by cooperation with other university partners, thus linking university and non-university research.

REKLIM Research Themes in PoF-IV

REKLIM Research Theme 1
Drivers and coastal impacts of sea-level rise

REKLIM Research Theme 2
Coupled regional modelling

REKLIM Research Theme 3
Extreme events across temporal and spatial scales

REKLIM Research Theme 4
Atmospheric composition including greenhouse gases

REKLIM Research Theme 5
Regional cultures of response to climate change and extreme events

REKLIM Research Theme 6
Land surface and its feedback mechanisms

REKLIM Research Theme Knowledge Transfer
Knowledge Transfer and Dialogue Processes with Society at Large

More information on REKLIM: www.reklim.de

Scientific Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Peter Braesicke (Karlsruher Institut of Technology)

Advisory REKLIM member and former scientific coordinator:
Prof. Dr. Peter Lemke

Managing Director:
Dr. Klaus Grosfeld

Coordination Office:
Marietta Weigelt