Climate change affects our lives in many areas, and work is in progress to find out how we best adapt to the new conditions. Climate models predict major changes in the water cycle, which are important for water extraction, flood and drought. In urban areas, excessive rainfall over a short period is a particular challenge for the infrastructure, while, for example agriculture will suffer from both too much and too little water. Changes in sea level are also a factor which we must adapt to.
GEUS’ activities in brief
GEUS is working to predict the effect of climate change on the water cycle and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which influences sea level. And the institution is working to identify how past climate has affected the environment, to gain insight into how future climate change will affect society. The results are important pieces in the puzzle about, how we best adapt to climate change.
The water cycle
GEUS works with hydrological modeling to quantify the impacts of climate change on the water cycle. The calculations are mainly carried out with the national hydrological model, the so-called DK-model, operated and developed by GEUS. The hydrological calculations are used to make the best possible choices for adaptation to climate change, so we can optimise the water cycle management in connection with e.g. changes in groundwater abstraction, changes in watercourse layout and maintenance, establishment of flood zones, pointing out fallow fields in river valleys, reclaim, urban development and infrastructure. GEUS’ work also includes a similar effort in developing countries.
GEUS monitors the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the local glaciers – a melting which plays an important role in sea level rises. The results contribute to get a more accurate picture of the quantity of ice melt. The measurements are part of a global effort to assess sea-level changes, which have great impact on how people must adapt along the coasts in the future.
Environment, nature and sea
GEUS is also working on mapping the climate impact on the environment thousands of years ago, in order to gain insight into how future climate change will affect society and nature in general – an information used to assess climate adaptation. The efforts include studies of geological layers, which contain information in the form of so-called climate proxies, such as pollen, leaves and algae shells that can shed light on the environmental effects on marine, limnic and terrestrial systems. Finally, GEUS maps temperature and ocean circulation patterns in the past 5000 years in the North Atlantic and Greenland to get a measure of the temperature fluctuations that have been, and how water exchange has taken place. This is important for the assessment of the local glacier melting in Greenland's fjords and an assessment of future opportunities for e.g. fishing around the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
Cooperation and information
GEUS contributes to the Danish climate adaptation portal, which contains information to the public, business and municipalities about the changes in our environment as a result of climate change and how we can act to adapt to the changes.