GNF - Flash Light Study Lakes and Climate Change

Flash Light Study Lakes and Climate Change

"Flash light study" on currently available research results on the impacts of climate change - and resulting changes in temperatures, precipitation amounts and precipitation distributions – on lakes, small water bodies and wetlands in Germany, including findings from other European countries.

Download Overview Study (EN)

Download Abstract (English)


Project Goals

The project "Flash Light Study Lakes and Climate Change" aims to shine a spotlight on existing research results, relevant projects and competent institutions. Where and how have changes in lakes, small water bodies and wetlands been and are being detected. What practice-relevant knowledge has been gained? Are there already approaches and strategies for solutions? These questions will also be explored with the help of case studies and results from pilot projects. The GNF will draw on contacts and experiences of partners from the Living Lakes Network Germany. In addition, European and international experiences from the international Living Lakes network can be contributed.


Lake protectors on site, politicians and the nature conservation and water management administrations are usually aware of individual relevant research results on the topic of "Lakes and Climate Change". However, there is a lack of a practice-oriented overview of which research institutions have already gained important findings in which areas. The project aims to close this gap and also outline problems and concrete approaches to solutions based on case studies. In addition, the project is also explicitly concerned with introducing impulses into environmental policy processes at the EU level.

Project Measures

  • Overview study (approx. 60 pages). The aim is to publish the study as part of the publication series of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

  • Conduct an online workshop to discuss, supplement, validate and verify the project results.

  • Presentation on the GNF website and press release about the GNF.

  • Short newsletter (abstract: approx. 4 pages) in German and English.

  • A final public online conference is planned in June 2021 on basic theses of the flash study in the broader context of drought, climate change and lake research.


Within the framework of this project, a series of online events are held to raise awareness for the importance of lakes and wetlands conservation: 

  • Threatened Lake Areas: An online conference on 2nd February 2021 (World Wetlands Day), where among other presentations on the global situation, the international GNF Living Lakes network declared the Pantanal as the Threatened Lake of the Year 2021.
  • “Gewässer, Seen und Feuchtgebiete im Klimastress - Forschung und Fallstudien”: Online conference on 22nd March 2021 (World Water Day), with contributions and case studies on the state of lakes in relation to climate change in Germany.
  • “Gewässer, Seen und Feuchtgebiete im Klimastress”: Online discussion on 15th June 2021, in which current studies and the situation of lakes in relation to climate change will be discussed in a comprehensive context. This event will include discussion groups, in which the key points of several topics will be discussed, namely Climate and lakes in Germany; Peatland protection; and Climate risks, groundwater and drinking water protection. Registration:


In addition, two newsletters are being produced, one in English focusing on the international lake situation and climate change,

Newsletter: Wetlands and Lakes – Actions for Climate Protection

and one in German focusing on the situation in Germany on the same topic

Newsletter: Seen und Feuchtgebiete im Klimawandel


Freshwaters are particularly vulnerable to climate change for many reasons. The publication "Rote Liste der gefährdeten Biotoptypen" (Red List of endangered habitat types), which is published by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation at approximately ten-year intervals, states in the latest version of 2017 that almost two thirds of the habitat types occurring in Germany are endangered. Particularly high levels of endangerment are found in nitrogen-sensitive peatlands and nutrient-poor lakes and small bodies of water against the background of land-use influences. Lakes are also suitable indicators of the effects of climate change. Smaller water bodies in particular react quickly to temperature rises and dry periods and can provide valuable information for adapted and modified decisions on action or management.


Current research results indicate that the global temperature increase is already having a measurable impact on lakes in Germany (as well as globally). Added to this are stress factors from the last few dry years. Unfortunately, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) still focuses primarily on the effects of climate change on oceans and the cryosphere in relation to "climate and water ecosystems". However, the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), the largest research centre for inland waters in Germany, summarises in its 2019 annual research report: "Due to climate change, more and more water bodies will dry up at least temporarily, and many lakes will shrink or disappear permanently. This trend not only endangers drinking water reserves and important ecosystems: Drying waters play an important role in the global carbon cycle, as they can release CO2 and other climate-relevant gases and thus further intensify climate change. The consequences for biodiversity under and over water are considerable, especially since many aquatic and amphibian species are already classified as endangered or threatened with extinction.

Contact Persons

Mr Udo Gattenlöhner

Global Nature Fund (GNF) - Office Radolfzell

Phone: +49 7732 9995 80



Ms Dr Marlene Ivonne Bär Lamas
Global Nature Fund (GNF) - Office Radolfzell
Phone: +49 7732 9995 82

 Lake Constance in the border triangle: Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
 Piston ducks on Lake Constance
 The Great Plön Lake is located in Schleswig-Holstein and belongs to the waters of Holstein Switzerland.

© Carsten Burggraf

 Broad-leaved orchid

© Carsten Burggraf

 Shore area at a lake of the Mecklenburg Lake District.
 Swallow-rooted gentian


 Newsletter: Wetlands and Lakes – Actions for Climate Protection


 German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The project should make a concrete contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
 Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
 Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
 Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Project Period:


Project Countries: 



February 2021 - October 2021


Germany and Europe


German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)