Extreme Sea Levels and Approaches to Adaptation in Germany

Friday, 19 December 2014: 10:39 AM
Ralf Weisse, Jens Kappenberg and Janina Sothmann, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research, Geesthacht, Germany
Germany’s coastal areas are exposed to extra-tropical storms and related marine hazards such as wind waves and storm surges. About 50% of the coast is below 5 m NN and considerable parts are protected by an almost continuous dike line. Rising mean and extreme sea levels provide substantial threat. In this presentation we briefly review the present situation. Storm related sea level changes are characterized by pronounced inter-annual and decadal variability but do not show a long-term trend over the last century. Mean sea level has increased over the past about 100-150 years at a rate roughly comparable to global mean sea level rise. As a consequence extreme sea levels have increased in the area as increasing mean sea level shifts the baseline for storm surges and wind waves towards higher values. Different approaches for adaptation are investigated in a number ongoing research projects. Some case studies for potential adaptation and challenges are presented. Examples range from detailed analyses of retreat and accommodation strategies to multi-purpose strategies such as concepts for sustainable development of tidal estuaries.