Marking the halfway point: IMPETUS reviews progress and joins up with ARSINOE to exchange tips on climate change adaptation

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Last week IMPETUS partners met at KWR in the Netherlands to review the latest project achievements at the end of a second year of activity and outline planning for the next half of the project. Not only that, a joint all-day meeting with partners from sister project ARSINOE took place to explore project synergies and exchange tips on climate adaptation pathways.

The 3rd IMPETUS general assembly which brought together over 60 impetus partners to the KWR facility in Utrecht kicked off on the 9th of October and marked the halfway point of the project. The first two days of the GA saw partners provide updates on all areas of the project, from work on governance and stakeholder engagement for transformative adaptation, to the setting up of digital resources to provide easier access to climate solutions, to working on joint identification of project impacts as products,  and progress on solution deployment in each of the seven IMPETUS demo sites.

On a general level, within the framework of IMPETUS, the ‘Resilience Knowledge Booster’ (RKB) model is taking shape and looking to have a first partial prototype of their digital decision aiding tool ready by the end of this year. The project is also working on a multisided platform which will enable stakeholders to better locate solutions and experts who can support relevant adaptation solutions tailored to their needs. Further data gathering and processing from the seven demo sites has taken place and a series of climate change indicators (such as heat vulnerability) have been fine-tuned.

Some of these activities have given light to a first iteration of the web base “hot-spot” (HIPS) tool that allows for identifying and prioritizing regions (based on NUTS) that are exposed to climate risks, and are vulnerable or have low adaptation capacity. Users can explore various datasets and combine them to perform climate hot-spot analysis.

During the meeting, some insights were also given on the specific, highly diverse, climate change challenges and solutions that the demo site teams are aiming to tackle. Some of the main advances include:

  • In the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, the ‘Continental’bioclimatic region, partners have been busy identifying synergies with the Berlin Masterplan for Water and developing a simplified model accounting for all factors of the regional water balance. They have also worked on a mock-up of a Decision Theatre for integrated water resource management.
  • In Catalonia, the ‘Coastal’ bioclimatic region, partners have been continuing to work on the construction of a multi-functional wetland to test water treatment in flood risk areas of the Ebro Delta; while also carrying forward several other activities related to sand dune restoration, sediment transport and the development of a satellite-based coastal monitoring system.
  • In the Attica region, ‘Mediterranean’,bioclimatic region, partners have started the construction of a sewer mining unit that will reclaim waste water for urban irrigation and have launched a first version of a Digital Twin of the Attica Region.
  • In Zeeland and Rijnmond, the ‘Atlantic’bioclimatic region, partners have developed on-the-fly calculation of heat stress maps, implemented in a tool to calculate the effects of different spatial developments and modelled decarbonization option for all major industrial refineries in the port of Rotterdam.
  • In Troms and Finnmark, the ‘Arctic’bioclimatic region, local partners have been working to climate proof Tromsø city centre by engaging local authorities in discussions supported by VR technology that demonstrates the effects of sea level rise. They have also been using snowpack simulations, weather data and slush flow to develop a more accurate early warning system for rockfalls, landslides and avalanches.
  • In the Zemgale region, the ‘Boreal’bioclimatic region, partners have finished testing a flood forecasting model that can support the upgrading of a flood early warning system from city to regional scale;and have been assessing good practice examples to inform a regional climate change adaptation plan
  • In the Valle dei Laghi, the ‘Mountains’ bioclimatic region, partners together with local stakeholders have developed a mock up for a Decision support system for water management and have also analised local historic building stock to better inform protection measures for cultural heritage.    

During the second project year, IMPETUS also liaised with sister projects and several partners presented project activities and results in events related to climate change and water, space technology and Earth observation, and global sustainable development, among others. Information about some of these can be found in the IMPETUS website events and stories pages.

Joint meeting with ARSINOE and visit to Zeeland Delta Project

In an effort to establish stronger synergies with sister Green Deal projects, on the 11th of October a joint meeting hosting the full consortiums of both IMPETUS and ARSIONOE took place at the KWR premises.

Over 120 attendees populated the KWR rooms where after an overview of the ARSIONE case studies and the IMPETUS demo sites, IMPETUS and ARSINOE partners worked together in breakout sessions dedicated to several cross cutting topics relevant to both projects such as: Heat modeling & Urban biodiversity; Water Energy Systems approaches; Flooding modelling, impact assessments and regional planning; Water quality and ground water; Agriculture and biodiversity; Virtual reality experiments and digital twins and, the challenges and opportunities for stakeholder engagement.

After a lot of networking and exchange of ideas, on the following and final day, IMPETUS and ARSINOE partners went to see climate adaptation solutions in action and made their way to Zeeland to learn about the Delta Works Project.

Due to large parts of the Netherlands being below sea level, many of its cities and towns have been under constant threat of flooding. The greatest flood disaster in the country’s history occurred on the first of February 1953, inundating more than 200000 hectares of land, close to 2000 people drowned and 72.000 were displaced. The catastrophe led to implementation of the Delta Project (Delta Works)

The Delta Works are a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta from the sea. Constructed between 1954 and 1997, the works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees, and storm surge barriers located in the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland.

The aim of the dams, sluices, and storm surge barriers was to shorten the Dutch coastline, thus reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised. The area has become an example to many other territories around the world in adapting to the effects of flooding and climate change.

Background on IMPETUS

The central aim of the EU-funded IMPETUS project is to empower communities in their journey towards building resilience to the local effects of climate change. Resilience, which involves the capacity to prepare for, adapt to, recover from, and potentially even thrive amidst environmental shifts, holds utmost significance for the sustained well-being of societies in terms of their socio-economic, ecological, and human health aspects.

IMPETUS is pioneering an approach that blends scientific data with digital tools, designed for collaborative use by regional communities. This collaborative process allows them to explore and select the most suitable strategies to adapt to climate change. These strategies or adaptation pathways entail the selection of several technical, nature based, financial and governance solutions, that end into the identification of innovation packages for each region. This innovative method for enhancing understanding of climate change resilience can be customized and adopted by any community to fit their unique circumstances.


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."


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.


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."


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. 


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.


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.