Climate impacts on Sittard-Geleen
The predicted climate change will be facing us with extreme weather; temperatures will be rising, precipitation volumes will increase, as will the number of extreme downpours. In addition, we will be facing increasingly frequent drought. In order to prevent future problems, it is important that we already factor this in into our planning. To this end we need a proper picture of how climate change will impact an area. For that reason, the municipality of Sittard-Geleen has conducted a Climate Stress Test Light. This has mapped out the vulnerabilities and opportunities relating to climate change. The results can be found in the report entitled Klimaateffecten Sittard-Geleen [Climate Impact on Sittard-Geleen].
The aforementioned Climate Stress Test has generated an answer to the “Analysis” step and provided clarity as regards the issues at stake in the area. The stress test has been conducted following the steps outlined in the “Stress Test Guidelines”. One of the components was the organisation of a climate adaptation atelier. In this atelier, municipal officials and delegates from the district water board examined the climate effects and their urgency.
The outcomes of the Climate Stress Test Light have been set down in the report entitled Klimaateffecten Sittard-Geleen (see download). The report highlights locations and/or groups that are susceptible to the various climate effects: extreme precipitation, flood issues (River Meuse and streams), drought and heat stress. The stress test examined whether any of the issues have already caused problems in the current climate, and how they will inter-relate in the future. The results have been translated into climate maps for the topics of Flooding, Pluvial flooding, Drought, and Heat. The maps identify threats and potential consequences for each specific location.
The above overview map combines the individual topic-specific maps, and provides an immediate picture of the climate effects at issue in the municipality. Among other things, it shows that the area around the Grensmaas river (Grevenbicht and Obbicht) is flood-prone. The authorities are currently working hard on ensuring safety by river widening and embankment improvement projects. The map also shows several locations that are prone to heavy downpours, which could cause pluvial flooding and erosion. With a view to future climate change, involving increasingly frequent heavier downpours, we need to consider innovative water discharging methods. We also need to accept the fact that the streets will be waterlogged more frequently. In addition, climate change will cause increasing drought. Especially in the agricultural sector, this could reduce crop yield. The Limbrichterbos forest is at risk of drying out, which will affect its vegetation. Furthermore, the Sittard and Geleen city centres are susceptible to heat stress. Nocturnal temperatures in these city centres may rise by up to eight degrees. This is an issue that requires particular attention, especially considering the ageing population in this area.
In addition to its negative impact, climate change also entails opportunities. These are also discussed in the climate impact report. A proper picture of the opportunities available in an area is important in order to be able to make the most of them. For example, a warmer climate brings about opportunities for recreation and the leisure economy. Opportunities for the future enhancement of the area’s climate-resilience arise because of the local fragmentation of living environments as a result of demographic changes. This creates more room for climate adaptation measures that counteract pluvial flooding and heat stress. The earlier Handboek tegen de Hitte, groen en de opwarming van de stad [Manual against Heat, green spaces and urban warming] – a result of the European Interreg project “Application of functional green space: aerial green, climate green, social green” carried out in 2013 – presents suggestions on how green spaces in the city can contribute to achieving the climate goals.
The Sittard-Geleen climate impact report serves as a basic step that helps make integrated comparative assessments with a view to climate change and the future. The report enables the substantiated consideration of climate issues in the decision-making process of all physical spatial planning projects. It has also contributed to the internal collaboration among municipal officials and to their external collaboration with other parties. The results will be incorporated into the environmental vision currently being drafted.
The Sittard-Geleen stress test featured in the Klimaatstress in de test [Climate stress in the test] report (see download), a study into the Climate Stress Test Light format and what it has to offer to municipalities. Among other things, it comprises guidelines for setting up and conducting a Climate Stress Test Light.
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