Impacts of Global Change on Ecosystem Services in the state of Hesse


The term Global Change describes the alteration of important functional parameters of the Earth System, leading to shifts of large-scale structures, processes and patterns as well as to the degradation of natural resources. Important aspects of Global Change include anthropogenic changes of climate and land-use as results of the complex interactions between political, cultural and economic driving forces. Both processes are likely to have massive impacts on the functionality of terrestrial ecosystems and in consequence on their ability to provide Ecosystem Services. These services include the production of food and energy crops, provisioning of drinking water, climate regulation as well as biodiversity and recreation value.

The project is organized within 4 work packages:

  1. Spatially explicit analysis of Ecosystem Services for the federal state of Hesse in Germany.
  2. Evaluation of existing Ecosystem Services by citizens and analysis to which degree they would accept future changes, using questionnaires. Spatial downscaling of the study results in order to reveal regional patterns of social attitudes.
  3. Analysis of vulnerability of Ecosystem Services against future impacts of climate change and land-use change.
  4. Development of robust adaptation strategies, considering uncertainties associated with changing climate variables. Analysis of these strategies with simulation experiments.

The study will concentrate on Ecosystem Services within the following fields of action with a strong link to environmental problems thus reflecting the CESR research priorities: (1) Agricultural production of food and energy crops, (2) water-use and water-quality with focus on agriculture, (3) carbon sequestration in soils and vegetation as one option of climate mitigation, (4) biodiversity and nature conservation, (5) aesthetic value of landscape. Using the scientific methods developed within the project context, an integrative analysis of the consequences of Global Change will be carried out in order to support the Hessian adaptation strategies regarding the management of land and water resources. The major objectives of these strategies are to maintain or to expand Ecosystem Services under Global Change conditions. The integrative approach of the project facilitates the identification of interactions between the different fiends of action and might serve as a starting point to further cross-link the activities of the Hessian Centre on Climate Change.

Funding agency

Fachzentrum Klimawandel des Hessischen Landesamtes für Umwelt und Geologie

Project duration

October 2009  −  June 2015

Project management

Andreas Ernst
Rüdiger Schaldach

Project staff

Jan Volland