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Warmer climate can direct flow of tourists northwards

For over half a century, we Northern Europeans have been heading south for our holidays. A warmer climate may reverse the flow of tourists and encourage more Southern Europeans to head north. But how will future changes in climate affect tourism in Gothenburg?

This is the subject of a new, European research project at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The tourist industry is heavily affected by weather and climate. A warmer climate extends the tourist season in Northern Europe, while southern parts of the Continent suffer heat waves and water shortages, which are extremely costly. Combined with changes in rainfall patterns and rising sea levels, future climate changes will have a considerable impact on the economies and social development in Europe's cities.

New demands
According to the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, the tourist industry employs more people than major companies Ericsson, Volvo, Saab, Scania, Skanska, Telia Sonera, Sandvik, Astra Zeneca, ABB and SCA put together. If changes in climate do end up reversing the flow of tourists, then tourism will have an even greater strategic and economic significance, since there will be demands to be met both in terms of the expectations of tourists and the wellbeing of the local population. The question is whether Europe and Sweden are prepared for this?
Heat buffering
The heat buffering effect of cities makes them particularly sensitive to climate change, where global warming may intensify the cities' heat islands. The fact is that temperatures in built-up areas are between 0.5 and 1 degree higher than in the surrounding, open landscape. This is because the city's building materials absorb the sun's energy, as well as heat radiation from cars and heated buildings.
Difference within the city
The phenomenon is also apparent within the city: In Gothenburg, researchers measured a temperature difference of six degrees between the Slottskogen park area and the adjacent, densely built-up Linnéstaden. In Canada's second city, Montreal, researchers have measured temperature differences of an incredible 12 degrees between city and park areas.
Awareness and impact
A European collaborative project, which will be coordinated from the University of Gothenburg, is now being initiated with the support of Formas, aimed at studying awareness of climate change and its impact on city tourism in several European cities. The project will include research groups in Sweden, Portugal and Turkey, under the leadership of professor Ingegärd Eliasson at the Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg.
New database
"Sustainable city development requires increased awareness of the effects of climate change. The goal is to establish a database for analyses of the relationship between city tourism and climate change in the three countries in question," says Ingegärd Eliasson.
Interdisciplinary project
The project, called "Urban tourism and climate change", is interdisciplinary. The Swedish research group includes, in addition to Ingegärd Eliasson, physical geographer Sofia Thorsson from the University of Gothenburg, and psychologist Igor Knez from the University of Gävle.
Ingegärd Eliasson, Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg
46 (0)31 7862832
In its research strategy for 2009-2012, Formas has prioritised city and rural development as one of five research areas to focus on in future. According to the strategy, research is needed in order to highlight how cities can contribute towards a better environment, how they can be more attractive and interact with the surrounding countryside. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, air temperatures in Europe will rise by 2-6 degrees up to the year 2100.
BY: Krister Svahn
Phone: +46 (0)31 7864912

Helena Aaberg | idw
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