Decision support to develop viable climate change adaptation strategies for agriculture and regional land use management encompasses a wide range of options and issues. Up to now, only a few suitable tools and methods have existed for farmers and regional stakeholders that support the process of decision-making in this field. The interactive model-based spatial information and decision support system LandCaRe DSS attempts to close the existing methodical gap. This system supports interactive spatial scenario simulations, multi-ensemble and multi-model simulations at the regional scale, as well as the complex impact assessment of potential land use adaptation strategies at the local scale. The system is connected to a local geo-database and via the internet to a climate data server. LandCaRe DSS uses a multitude of scale-specific ecological impact models, which are linked in various ways. At the local scale (farm scale), biophysical models are directly coupled with a farm economy calculator. New or alternative simulation models can easily be added, thanks to the innovative architecture and design of the DSS. Scenario simulations can be conducted with a reasonable amount of effort. The interactive LandCaRe DSS prototype also offers a variety of data analysis and visualisation tools, a help system for users and a farmer information system for climate adaptation in agriculture. This paper presents the theoretical background, the conceptual framework, and the structure and methodology behind LandCaRe DSS. Scenario studies at the regional and local scale for the two Eastern German regions of Uckermark (dry lowlands, 2600 km(2)) and Weißeritz (humid mountain area, 400 km(2)) were conducted in close cooperation with stakeholders to test the functionality of the DSS prototype. The system is gradually being transformed into a web version (http://www.landcare-dss.de) to ensure the broadest possible distribution of LandCaRe DSS to the public. The system will be continuously developed, updated and used in different research projects and as a learning and knowledge-sharing tool for students. The main objective of LandCaRe DSS is to provide information on the complex long-term impacts of climate change and on potential management options for adaptation by answering "what-if" type questions.
Keywords: Agricultural adaptation strategies; Decision support system; GIS model coupling; Impact assessment; Land use management; Model integration; Scenario studies; Simulation model.
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