Boreal demo site

Zemgale Region, LV

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Situation:

Zemgale region covers almost 17% of Latvia, located in the country’s centre. Ground water provides drinking water resources for cities that occupy around 6% of the area. A dense river network provides ecological corridors for biodiversity and recreational opportunities for people, but intensive agriculture across 40% of the region has impacted biodiversity, water quality and water management.

High flooding risks mean there is a need to assess Zemgale Plain and update civil protections, which calls for coordination between municipalities and for a system to evaluate risks and allow public institutions and citizens to select effective protection and adaptation measures.

PROGNOSIS

2020

By the middle of this century, increasing agricultural development will intensify pollution and biodiversity loss, while climate change will further increase flooding risks.

Contact this team | Sazinieties ar šo komandu  :

  • Agnese Meija-Toropova – agnese.meija-toropova[@]bef.lv

Issues:

Flooding

Biodiversity loss

Pollution

Ambitions within IMPETUS:

Develop a regional system for real-time information exchange and analysis

Use the new system to support early flood warnings, decision making and civil protection.

Create a framework for systemic implementation by involving stakeholders

at local and regional level in innovative and multidisciplinary co-creation activities.

Incorporate knowledge relating to tourism and forestry

as well as agriculture, water and biodiversity

Realise an innovative framework for enhancing ecosystem services and integrating nature-based solutions

to increase the sustainability of agricultural practices, improve water quality and foster restoration of habitats.

Scale up from Jelgava city to demonstrate the value of good practices at regional level.

to pave the way for:

Demonstration site and solutions showcases

to contribute to increasing climate adaptation capacity.

Adoption of climate resilient innovation packages and adaptation pathways

for policy and decision making, awareness raising, behavioural change, and development of further adaptation measures.

Test solutions:

Early warning system for precise flooding prediction

Technology Readiness Level 6-8

An early warning system is currently operating in Jelgava City, but requires a high degree of human operational intervention.

In IMPETUS

  • Expand the early warning system to include Artificial Intelligence driven algorithms connected with the national monitoring system and other databases.;
  • Make the upgraded data sets accessible as open data to experts and society.

This work is linked with:

  • Zemgale Regional Development Program 2021-2027
  • National Development Plan of Latvia 2021-2027

Economic impact assessment of physical climate risk

Technology Readiness Level 4-5

Socio-Economic tools and risk projections enable the assessment of climate risks and the establishment of projections and metrics regarding future investments.

In IMPETUS

  • Identify highly vulnerable hot-spots using open datasets for Copernicus services and satellite-derived variables;
  • Transform this knowledge into a specific regional model and include this in the Resilience Knowledge Booster;
  • Use the RKB and regional model to elaborate economic assessment metrics to aid decision making about investments and future mitigation plans.

This work is linked with:

  • European Investment Bank
  • European Central Bank
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High temperatures

Record-breaking summertime temperatures have been recorded in the Netherlands in recent years. With global temperatures rising, such extreme weather events will occur more often, and for longer periods. Prolonged high temperatures, with warm nights as well as hot days, can cause heat stress* and related health issues, particularly among city populations. 

*Heat stress occurs when the human body cannot get rid of excess heat and can impact wellbeing through conditions such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes.

"We want to enable municipality decision makers who are working on spatial developments to identify heat stress 'hot spots' and cool areas, analyse the future effects of climate change, and model the effect of different heat stress-reducing measures. The tool must provide them with an easy starting point to integrate heat stress risks in their projects."

Issue

Despite the cooling effect of the sea in the region of Zeeland, the growing risk of heat stress has become a concern.

Elderly and other vulnerable people are more impacted by the effects of prolonged heat, which can cause headaches, dizziness, insomnia and other health issues – even death. Excess temperatures also affect general comfort and liveability of cities. Water quality can be reduced, both for drinking and swimming, and infrastructure can be affected. Buildings and concrete surfaces trap heat, potentially leading to damage, and release it during the night, keeping temperatures warm.

During heat waves, it is important that everyone has access to a cool and comfortable place. Appropriate spatial planning can help to decrease and deal with heat stress. Environmental factors like water bodies, trees, and shade have a major impact on stress caused by high temperatures. Therefore, planting trees, removing concrete surfaces, creating green roofs and cool spaces can improve our comfort and health. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for city planning to address these needs.

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Flood risk

By 2050, sea-level within this region is predicted to rise by 15-40 cm, with more frequent extreme weather and more (severe) storms triggered by climate change. These changes will exacerbate the natural risk of flooding in the IMPETUS ‘Atlantic’ region, because it is surrounded by rivers and the sea, and is below sea level.

*Risk takes into account two aspects; the chance that an event will occur and the negative impact of such an event once it occurs. When there is a low chance that an event will occur, but its impacts are huge, the risk is still significant.

“In the Netherlands, an extensive system of dikes protects us against sea and river flooding. We have always put our faith in this defence and focused almost solely on flood prevention. However, pressure on our system will increase with climate change and rising sea levels. To adapt and maintain a safe living environment, we should develop other safety measures, like more robust spatial planning and contingency plans."

Issue

Rotterdam city, is located in Rijnmond – ‘mouth of the Rhine’. The Rhine river flows through this densely populated area and characterises the region. Protections such as sea dikes and storm surge barriers have been constructed to protect the region, but flooding still occurs.

People living in the city are accustomed to seeing smaller floods. The changing climate affects the interplay between rainfall, river levels and sea storms, increasing the flooding risk. Water levels could rise by a few metres, even in populated areas, with potentially massive impacts. 

Mitigation measures such as storm surge barriers reduce the chance that high water reaches the city, but to minimise the impact of floods when they do occur, adaptation strategies are also needed. A city that can adapt to be safe from floods must be carefully designed. How best to design such an adaptive city?

Critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and evacuation routes, must be accessible at all times. Planning how to best protect them, homes and lives is complex. Flood water behaves in a complex way and flood risks show strong spatial variations. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for adaptive city planning. 

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Energy and waste water

To become climate-neutral by 2050, climate mitigation* efforts are crucial in our strategy for how to deal with climate change. Reducing our energy consumption is a significant mitigation step. In the Netherlands, 15% of energy is consumed in the Rijnmond area around the port of Rotterdam, in large part by a major petrochemical industry cluster.

*Climate mitigation encompasses measures such as technologies, processes, or practices that reduce carbon emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.

Issue

The Rotterdam port petrochemical industry cluster is Europe’s largest. It consumes 70% of the Rijnmond region’s energy. A large part of this energy is wasted (64%, 203 petajoules). More than half of that energy is lost with wastewater. In addition, most energy processes within these industries rely on fossil fuels, which has a significant impact on the climate.

Energy use must be minimised and fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable sources if climate change is to be mitigated. Electrification of processes opens up the possibility to use more renewable energy and can greatly impact decarbonisation. Recovering wasted heat would significantly reduce energy consumption and is a first step towards a more circular industry. 

Supporting industries in a transition towards climate-neutrality depends on identifying how best to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing production or performance. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is creating a digital tool that supports decision making about pathways towards an effective energy transition for EU industry.