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The Elbe river floods the fish market in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012. Low-lying parts of the city are built to survive frequent inundation. 

The Elbe river floods the fish market in Hamburg, Germany, in 2012. Low-lying parts of the city are built to survive frequent inundation. 

Photographer: Bodo Marks/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

In Hamburg, Surviving Climate Change Means Living With Water

The German city relies on an innovative mix of new and ancient techniques to keep new waterfront development dry amid rising sea levels and more frequent storms. 

Michael Schaper, head of Hamburg’s storm surge security team, gestures to a road that passes over a nearby bridge and across the harborside HafenCity district.

“Do you see how it gradually rises?” he says. “The fact that the street level is just a few meters higher over there means it will be flood-protected for the next century.”