Protection of the population: These three cities are already Germany’s heat heroes

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Thursday, 07/20/2023, 15:34

A global heat wave is also affecting Germany – climate change is exacerbating the problem. Are German municipalities prepared for the heat future? Three German municipalities are already showing how to prepare – and thus save lives.

Last week it became public how little German communities and cities are prepared for the increasingly drastic heat: almost half of all 400 districts and cities in Germany are affected by an above-average number of hot days. However, only a few municipalities have specific heat action plans.

And this despite the fact that the Bundestag passed the Climate Adaptation Act last week: This stipulates that all municipalities must draw up so-called climate adaptation concepts within the next few years. The aim is to prepare all cities for the threats of climate change – such as heat waves or heavy rain.

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More shade, more green

But some municipalities are already setting a good example. The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) lists municipalities that already have heat adaptation concepts. These include, for example Ludwigsburg (Baden-Württemberg) and Wuerzburg (Bavaria). When asked by FOCUS online Earth, both cities explained that they had carried out climate analyzes and decided on appropriate action plans.

Ludwigsburg After a so-called “city climate analysis”, has marked various areas for the citizens that are either particularly affected by heat – or where it is cooler in summer.

The most important measure if cities want to get fit for the heat of the future: more green, less concrete. A spokeswoman for the city of Baden-Württemberg explained on request that, among other things, a large parking lot had been unsealed and converted into a park. A total of 14,500 square meters were greened and up to 135 trees were planted. The aim: to create shadows and thus cool down the surroundings.

“Unfortunately, that’s not enough,” says Mayor Andrea Schwarz (SPD) to FOCUS online Earth. “That’s why we combine them with other measures. For example, as part of the ‘Pop-Up Downtown’ project, various squares were temporarily greened and equipped with shading elements. We also proceeded in the same way with the outdoor areas of schools and daycare centers.”

In Würzburg, the tram is involved in the provision

In the Bavarian Wuerzburg the city has taken similar measures: So-called “refill stations” and drinking water fountains are freely available to residents to help on particularly hot days. Further drinking water fountains are to be opened during the Bavarian summer holidays.

So that the population is informed in good time about particularly hot days, the heat warnings of the German Weather Service (DWD) are played out to the population on a large scale. An important helper: the tram. “The city of Würzburg has reached an agreement with the Würzburg tramway that short heat warnings will be issued at the tram stops, i.e. a text that draws attention to heat, that sufficient drinking and sun protection should be used,” explains a spokeswoman for the city when asked.

Past analyzes have revealed that Würzburg is one of the most heat-affected cities in Germany. The people of Würzburg have to endure an average of 15 days of hot weather, the city speaks of a “heat island effect”: it is sometimes up to six degrees warmer in particularly exposed areas.

When the city walls lock in the heat

This problem was in the North Rhine-Westphalian city Soest Recognized years ago: The medieval city wall had literally “locked” the heat in the city center on hot days. As early as 2016, the city therefore created a heat protection concept in close cooperation with its citizens. The city is considered a pioneer nationwide – so much so that the city was even presented as a prime example by the ” Heat Resilient Cities ” research project.

In a radical step, the city even decided to uncover and renaturate old canals. This not only unseals surfaces – the water and the attached plants help to lower the ambient temperature. The measures were successful and led to schools and parking lots being unsealed and more green spaces being created. In addition, the municipality has created so-called “fresh air corridors”, open areas where the circulating air provides further cooling.

“Green oasis” for the future

However, the “heat heroes” are still a long way from reaching their goal. In Wuerzburg A feasibility study is currently being carried out to examine the possibilities for more greenery and thus more shade in the inner city. According to the city, further measures are planned.

Ludwigsburg plans to redesign the Arsenalplatz in the city center as a further measure. The idea: a “green oasis” with seating on almost 8,000 square meters. A grove of around 60 trees should provide sufficient shade and cool places to stay.

Some of the countries abroad are already further along

Heat adaptation concepts are already a reality in other cities. A particularly extreme example: the Spanish city of Seville. The city in southern Spain is hit by temperatures of around 40 degrees in July and August – and the trend has been rising in recent years. Therefore, the city has decided on extensive measures: the shading of sidewalks, squares and streets, the installation of public drinking fountains and the planting of more than 5000 trees per year have already had an effect.

The City of Heat also adds a new dimension at the administrative level: Heat waves are now named and categorized, just like typhoons, for example. Each named heat wave triggers certain measures, such as opening swimming and outdoor pools to the public.

In addition, a particularly innovative project is to be implemented in Seville in the future: channels called “Qanats” transport water and release cooling air to the surface through shafts. This could greatly reduce the ambient temperature.



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