Climate change threats to the coastline of northern Germany

Northern Germany’s coastline extends over about 3700 kilometres. The North Sea coast and islands account for about 1580 kilometres, and the Baltic Sea coast including the Bodden waters (a local term for shallow coastal waters) and islands about 2100 kilometres. The low-lying North Sea areas less than 5 metres above sea level are considered to be under threat, as are the areas along the Baltic Sea coast less than 3 metres above sea level. This equates to a total area of 13,900 square kilometres, a large proportion of which is currently protected by dykes. About 3.2 million people live in the­se flood-prone areas. The economic value of these regions currently amounts to more than 900 billion euros. There are also more than a million jobs here. Most vulnerable to storm floods and storm tides are the major cities, which include Hamburg and Bremen in particular in the North Sea region, and Kiel, Lübeck, Rostock and Greifswald along the Baltic Sea. Coastal erosion is threat­ening many tourist centres on both coastlines. Furthermore large sections of the ecologically-valuable saltmarshes and intertidal mudflats could be lost in the long term. It is safe to say that the cost of coastal protection measures will rise, particularly dyke construction and beach nourishment.