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New tool to help homeowners with climate adaptation

An Aarhus University scientist encourages homeowners to start getting their homes ready to handle the more extreme weather conditions of the future. A new web tool called VisAdapt (‘ShowAdapt’) makes it possible for Nordic homeowners to check whether their home is at risk and get good advice about climate-safe home renovation.

2015.04.29 | Hans Plauborg og Camilla Schrøder

Many homeowners could be facing a grim future if they don’t start taking a proactive approach to climate change. (POLFOTO)

Many homeowners could be facing a grim future if they don’t start taking a proactive approach to climate change. (POLFOTO)

If homeowners don’t take steps to protect their homes in time, the consequences could be both expensive and serious.  Michael Evan Goodsite, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark who heads the Nordic climate adaptation project NORD-STAR at Aarhus University, encourages people to take responsibility for their own homes in relation to climate adaptation.

“So far, an EU directive has designated ten high-risk areas in Denmark involving 22 municipalities, but in reality, everyone is at risk - even those who believe they’re not. Climate change won’t just lead to more wind and water, it will also bring us new pests, to take just one example. As I see things, homeowners have a responsibility to get to work on their homes and do something themselves. At the end of the day, this can also have a major impact on the value of your house,” explains Goodsite.

Is my home at risk?

A new web tool - the first of its kind in Denmark - can help homeowners get started. The tool, called VisAdapt, was developed by scientists from Aarhus University in cooperation with scientists from other Nordic countries and insurance industry experts. One of the researchers behind the tool is Anne Gammelgaard Ballantyne, PhD student at Aarhus BSS, Department of Business Development and Technology.

“What’s special about VisAdapt is that is collects climate information all the way down at the local level. When you type in your address, you can see your own house via Google Streetview, and you get data about climate changes and risks in your own neighbourhood. You can also get concrete advice and guidance that takes what kind of house you live in into account,” she explains.

Ballantyne’s research area is climate communication, and she sees getting people to experience climate change as something that actually needs to be prioritised in the private sphere as a major task.

“The research shows that people generally have a hard time seeing what climate change means for them. Either it’s something that will happen far into the future, or it’s something that takes place far away, like when the ice melts at the North Pole,” Ballantyne says.

The preliminary results from VisAdapt indicate that the tool has a major effect in relation to getting people engaged in the issue of climate change.

“We can see that the local focus means that folk experience that it’s relevant for them. I’m very pleased to see that it’s possible to actually get people to consider what climate change means for them using relatively simple means,” Ballantyne says.

VisAdapt can be used in all of the Nordic countries, and VisAdapt.info has already had thousands of users in Norway and Sweden since the site was launched in late 2014. Ballantyne encourages more Danes to follow suit.

With VisAdapt.info, you can:

  • Type in your address and see the climate changes in your neighborhood
  • Get an overview of risks and developments in temperature, precipitation and water levels where you live
  • Get concrete advice about how you can climate-safe your home

VisAdapt is funded by the the Top-level Research Initiative (TRI), and the site was developed by researchers from Aarhus University, Linköping University, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology(NTNU) as well as the insurance companies If, Gjensidige, Codan/Trygg-Hansa and Tryg.

The scenarios were developed at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, and the guidelines for climate adjustment were collected from public institutions, municipalities and insurance companies. The maps of high-risk areas were made available for publication by the relevant Nordic government agencies.


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