The research focus of Clim-A-Net is on climate proofing of coastal regions and connected river basins. The network considers these regions as being both highly vulnerable to climatic changes and crucial in terms of a balanced regional development relying on the foundation of regional living and non-living resources as well as regional economies. It is intended to address general research questions in the context of two selected study regions. The research activities integrate natural and social-science perspectives in an inter- and transdisciplinary manner.

Two North-South research teams consisting of senior researchers, Post-Docs and PhD students from the three partner universities develop methods and adopt common and comparative research strategies tailor-made to the regional conditions and demands concerning climate adaption.

Team 1: Understanding ecosystems and land use change in response to climate change

This team approaches climate impacts in the study regions from a natural science and spatial perspective. It applies current quantitative and in parts qualitative research methods to advance the understanding of ecosystem change and the change in land use practices and options under conditions of climate change in the study regions. The emphasis is given to methods of hydrological, vegetation-related, land use related and terrestrial data generation, landscape modelling and scenario building. These serve as a basis for the following social-science based studies that target at adaptation options and strategies. Research questions for PhD projects pursued in this team include: What is the probability of a given vegetation type or land use type to occur at a certain soil water and nutrient regime? What is the productivity, species richness, forage for large herbivores and supply of fruits for frugivores and granivores in vegetation types under conditions of climate change? What are critical thresholds in hydrological conditions and how can the vulnerability of vegetation types be described in the study regions? How can scenarios look like that depict land use changes based on scenarios of socio-economic, policy and climate change that include plausible global trends and specific local policy and management options?

Team 2: Vulnerability, adaptive capacity and mitigation research

Sustainable resource management under conditions of climate change requires integrating knowledge from several disciplines, namely resource assessment, landscape ecology and biodiversity research, geographical information systems and environmental data management, as well as the social sciences and environmental economics. Therefore, one part of the research is devoted to the joint development of analytical methods, observation tools, information systems and integrated assessment models. A second part addresses the socio-economic challenges in the attempt to develop regionally and locally applied adaptation options and strategies for the study regions. The research of the second North-South research team (Team 2) also focuses on both selected study regions. Hence, the socio-economic orientated research team of Line B with its PhD students and senior staff addresses the following research questions:

1. First, there is a need to understand the local conditions in both study regions with regard to the vulnerability of the regions towards climatic changes including the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacities of the communities and regional institutions. This analysis is based on the study of the expected changes in the ecosystems and their services with regard to water availability, extreme weather events, sea level rise. It includes methods of resource assessment, accessing regional climate models as well as a scenario analysis drawing on draft scenarios from team 1.

2. Second, the study programme proceeds to analyse what the socio-economic conditions are for significant changes in the ecosystems and how local and regional adaptive capacities can be promoted and advanced. This includes to question whether and how local communities and regional societies have been able to learn and adapt to ecosystem-changes in the past and which flexibility, resources, institutions and skills for change are available. In addition, the study includes other socio-economic drivers for change, in particular population growth. Thereby, a coherent picture of the socio-ecological systems and their climate change related vulnerability and adaptive capacities in the regions is developed.

3. Third, the study programme analyses and initiates adaptation strategies in the two respective study regions that build on these analyses and explicitly address those deficits identified in the previous steps of the analysis. It develops and applies tools of participatory research and stakeholder integration in the attempt to enhance learning capacities in the local communities with a particular focus on climate change (see Forrester 1999, van Asselt and Rijkens-Klomp 2002, Siebenhüner 2004, Van de Kerkhof and Wieczorek 2005). Thereby, the socio-ecological systems and their institutions are intended to become better prepared for climate-induced changes and thereby reduce their vulnerability.


  • Forrester, J. (1999) The logistics of public participation in environmental assessments. International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 11:316-330.
  • Siebenhüner, B. (2004) Social Learning and Sustainability Science: Which role can stakeholder participation play? International Journal of Sustainable Development, 7:146-163.
  • van Asselt, M.B.A. and Rijkens-Klomp, N. (2002) ‘A look in the mirror: reflection on participation in Integrated Assessment from a methodological perspective’, Global Environmental Change, 12:167-184.
  • Van de Kerkhof, M., and A. Wieczorek (2005) Learning and stakeholder participation in transition processes towards sustainability: Methodological considerations. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 72:733-747.
Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June 2014 10:39