Denmark Denmark Denmark Denmark

Previously in ClimateChangePost


Presented by Richard Klein (Stockholm Environment Institute) at the 4th Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Bergen, Norway, August 2016.

Among the world heritage sites that are threatened by climate change are sites in Greenland that are important for their archaeological evidence of early human inhabitants of Greenland.

Experiences in Copenhagen, New York, London, Rotterdam and Amsterdam shared at the Adaptation Futures Conference in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, May 2016

In Denmark, the need for rapid reaction has been exacerbated by a large increase in the number of extreme precipitation events. These events have resulted in pluvial flooding

In a warmer future climate, Western Europe will see larger impacts from severe Autumn storms. Not only their frequency will increase, but also their intensity and the area they affect.

How much sea level rise is to be expected at the upper limit of current IPCC scenarios? This question has been dealt with for northern Europe

By the 2020s, the main beneficiary of the warming climate appears to be Finland, where the number of good months is projected to rise by one month

Trans-Arctic navigation is likely to remain a summertime phenomenon. The Arctic marine environment is likely to be fully or partially ice-covered 6–8 months each year

Potential grass yield in Northern Europe is projected to increase in 2050 compared with 1960–1990, mainly as a result of increased growing temperatures.

Severe hurricane-force (> 32.6 m/s) storms can cause floods in west-European coastal regions and inflict large-scale damage on infrastructure and agriculture.

Extreme storm surge heights likely will show a small increase toward the coasts of the German Bight with stronger changes along the North Frisian Islands ...

Substantial reductions in potential groundwater recharge are projected for the 21st century in southern Europe and increases in northern Europe ...

Mean and extreme wind speeds in Northern Europe have been projected for the future periods 2046–2065 and 2081–2100 ...

Wind-storm losses on a European-wide property insurance portfolio have been quantified under current and future climatic conditions ...


I recommend

National plans/strategies for Denmark

  • Denmark’s Sixth National Communication on Climate Change Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (2014). Download.

Reports/papers that focus on important Danish topics

  • Coastal flood risk: Fenger et al. (2008). Danish attitudes and reactions to the threat of sea-level rise. Download.
  • Energy: Gabrielsen (2005). Climate change and the future Nordic electricity market - Supply, demand, trade and transmission. Download.

Reports/papers that present a sound overview for Europe

  • Quante, M. and F. Colijn (eds), 2016. North Sea Region climate change assessment NOSCCA. Regional Climate Studies, Springer Nature, 555 pp. Download.
  • Eisenreich (2005). Climate change and the European water dimension. A report to the European water directors.
  • European Environment Agency (2005). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe. Download.
  • European Environment Agency, JRC and WHO (2008). Impact of Europe’s changing climate – 2008 indicator-based assessment. Download.

Reports/papers that focus on specific topics, relevant for all of Europe

  • Agriculture: Rounsevell et al. (2005). Future scenarios of European agricultural land use II. Projecting changes in cropland and grassland. Download.
  • Agriculture: Fischer et al. (2005). Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990–2080. Download.
  • Biodiversity: Thuiller et al. (2005). Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. Download.
  • Coastal erosion: Salman et al. (2004). Living with coastal erosion in Europe: sediment and space for sustainability. Download.
  • Droughts: Blenkinsop and Fowler (2007). Changes in European drought characteristics projected by the PRUDENCE regional climate models. Download.
  • Droughts: European Environment Agency (2009). Water resources across Europe – confronting water scarcity and drought. Download.
  • Forestry: Seppälä et al. (2009). Adaptation of forests and people to climate change. A global assessment report. Download.
  • Health: Kosatsky (2005). The 2003 European heat waves. Download.
  • Health: WHO (2008). Protecting health in Europe from climate change. Download.
  • Insurance and Business: Mills et al. (2005). Availability and affordability of insurance under climate change. A growing challenge for the U.S. Download.
  • Security and Crisis management: German Advisory Council on Global Change (2007). World in transition: Climate change as a security risk. Summary for policy-makers. Download.
  • Storms: Gardiner et al. (2010). Destructive storms in European forests: Past and forthcoming impacts. Download.
  • Storms: Pinto et al. (2007). Changing European storm loss potentials under modified climate conditions according to ensemble simulations of the ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 GCM. Download.
  • Tourism: Deutsche Bank Research (2008). Climate change and tourism: Where will the journey lead? Download.

Weblogs in Danish

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EU funded Research Projects



Climate change scenarios

Climate change impacts and vulnerabilities

Coastal areas

Droughts and water scarcity



Fresh water resources

Mitigation / adaptation options and costs

Urban areas

Biodiversity Denmark

Biodiversity in numbers

More than 66% of the land is used for agriculture or horticulture. Woodlands take up 11%, while towns, roads and scattered habitation take up 10%. The rest is nature or listed areas such as lakes, watercourses, heaths, dunes and beaches. In relation to its size, Denmark is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna - in all, about 30,000 species (1).


Overall, it is estimated that limited changes in the climate may lead to greater biodiversity. Both freshwater and marine ecosystems are sensitive to climate change. At the moment it is not possible to estimate the total impacts.

We can generally distinguish between three types of climate impacts (2):

  1. increased biological production as a result of higher temperatures and longer growing seasons;
  2. increased nutrient load and thus increased overgrowth and oxygen depletion of Danish waters as a result of increased precipitation and changed precipitation patterns;
  3. increased erosion and flooding of low-lying coasts, tidal areas and river valleys as a result of sea level rise, increased precipitation and altered precipitation patterns.

The effects will generally mean that a number of nature types and species will be weakened, disappear or become extinct, because they do not have the possibility of moving to other areas or time to adapt. Ecosystems will be less stable and thus more vulnerable to invasive species, diseases and altered competition among species (2).

Terrestrial biodiversity

In the short run it is estimated that limited changes in the climate will generally mean that a number of nature types and species currently in Denmark will be weakened, disappear or become extinct, because they do not have the possibility of moving to other areas or time to adapt. In the short, this could mean that certain ecosystems could be less stable and thus more vulnerable to invasive species. However in the long run climate change could mean a slight increase in the overall species diversity in Denmark, provided that the sea level only rises slightly and that the species south of the border are actually able to spread northward. Some species could no longer be present and other species could arrive (4).

Marine biodiversity

An increase of the runoff from land areas is projected of the order of 10% in the period December to April (1). A bigger runoff in the entire Baltic region could make the surface layers in the inner Danish waters less saline. In combination with changed wind conditions and increased run-off of nutrients, this could present a risk of negative consequences for marine ecosystems and commercial fish stocks in the form oxygen depletion (1,4).

Salmon and trout, whose eggs and larvae develop in running water (e. g., streams, rivers) will be particularly sensitive to temperature changes, and reproductive success of cod in the eastern Baltic will also be affected by  hydrographic changes caused by climate change. Warmer temperatures can promote the abundance of new  species, such as anchovy and hake, which could open new fishery possibilities, but warmer temperatures will  also promote new types of pathogenic bacteria and toxic algae, which can threaten fish and shellfish populations  as well as human food supplies from the sea. These impacts also apply to sea culture of rainbow trout, which may no longer be feasible in Danish waters due to rising temperatures. In addition, acidification of the oceans can be a significant threat against wild mussel and other shellfish populations, as well as their sea-based culture (4).

Fresh water biodiversity

The consequences of extreme temperature increase (a 6°C increase around the 22nd century relative to 1986−2005) for water quality of Danish lakes has been assessed. Model projections for this scenario suggest that annual water runoff will increase (46%), increasing nitrogen and phosphorus loads into these lakes (13 and 64%, respectively). Because of this, phytoplankton biomass would increase (eutrophication) and potentially toxin-producing cyanobacteria could become a dominant feature of the phytoplankton community from spring (5).

Adaptation strategies

A number of efforts in the nature management area of great significance for adaptation to climate change are already underway and should enjoy continued priority. This applies especially to (2):

  • conversion of selected river valleys to natural wetlands with extensive land use and care;
  • targeting of mechanisms in a number of areas, for example, preservation, Natura 2000 planning, water planning, nature restoration and subsidies to achieve better coherence in nature;
  • the action plan on invasive species, which includes analysis of efforts required in light of climate change and recommendations for preventative efforts, efforts in relation to known invasive species and a proposal for allocating tasks in implementing programmes.

The Water Framework Directive's relatively short time scale for evaluating fulfillment of environmental goals with respect to the long-term perspective on climatic effects provides a sufficient basis to be able to initiate an effort that will take climatic effects into account (2).

There is an ongoing debate on the controversy between nature conservation and protection of land. The near-shore and shallow marine areas constitute “responsibility landscapes”, and it is argued that future use of these areas, including built-up, should allow a retreat of relevant ecosystems in the case of increased sea level and coastal erosion. Already some marginal areas have been given up. In other cases sedimentation has so far been able to keep pace with the sea level rise (3).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Denmark.

  1. Danish Ministry of the Environment (2005)
  2. Danish Government (2008)
  3. Fenger (2000)
  4. Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy (2010)
  5. Trolle et al. (2015)