Directly removing CO2 from the air has the potential to alter the costs of climate change mitigation. It could allow prolonging greenhouse-gas emissions from sectors like transport that are difficult, thus expensive, to turn away from using fossil fuels. And it may help to constrain the financial burden on future generations, a study now published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) shows. It focuses on the use of biomass for energy generation, combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS). According to the analysis, carbon dioxide removal could be used under certain requirements to alleviate the most costly components of mitigation, but it would not replace the bulk of actual emissions reductions.
05/06/2013 - Science is an important partner in implementing the German energy transition. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist and research domain co-chair of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), has been asked to join the working group on economics of the “Energiewende Research Forum”, whose job is to provide scientific advice for political measures to realize the energy transition. The interdisciplinary initiative was sparked by the National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities.
04/09/2013 - Jürgen Kurths is awarded the Lewis Fry Richardson Medal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) that honours outstanding achievements in nonlinear geosciences. The renowned prize will be given to him this week at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna that brings together more than 10.000 scientists from all disciplines from earth to space sciences. Kurths is head of the research domain "Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods" at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Professor at Humboldt University of Berlin.
04/02/2013 - Berlin aims to be climate neutral in the year 2050 – how this goal can be reached is to be shown by a team of experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), on behalf of the Berlin Senate. “Europe and the whole world is monitoring the Berlin metropolis,” PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber says. "If the German capital is pioneering in climate protection, this is a contribution to maintain the two-degrees-limit in regard to global warming – to achieve this, states have to act as well as bold local authorities." The Berlin Senator for Urban Development and the Environment, Michael Müller, highlights the significance of this feasibility study: "Berlin has to be a highly energy-efficient and modern city and make use of its opportunities for innovation and investments! This is not only to contribute to the energy transition in Germany. We want to live up to our responsibility for the future and lead by example."
02/25/2013 - The world has suffered from severe regional weather extremes in recent years, such as the heat wave in the United States in 2011 or the one in Russia 2010 coinciding with the unprecedented Pakistan flood. Behind these devastating individual events there is a common physical cause, propose scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The study will be published this week in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and suggests that man-made climate change repeatedly disturbs the patterns of atmospheric flow around the globe's Northern hemisphere through a subtle resonance mechanism.
02/15/2013 - As climate change starts being recognized as a security issue on the highest international levels, Pakistan and the United Kingdom have asked Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to speak at an in-depth discussion event for the UN Security Council members. The meeting aims at addressing “potential threats posed by possible adverse effects of climate change to the maintenance of international peace and security”. It will take place on February 15th at the UN headquarters in New York City. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to attend.
01/14/2013 - Monthly temperature extremes have become much more frequent, as measurements from around the world indicate. On average, there are now five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide than could be expected without long-term global warming, shows a study now published in Climatic Change. In parts of Europe, Africa and southern Asia the number of monthly records has increased even by a factor of ten. 80 percent of observed monthly records would not have occurred without human influence on climate, concludes the authors-team of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Complutense University of Madrid.
01/07/2013 - The Amazon rainforest, energy grids, and cells in the human body share a troublesome property: they possess multiple stable states. When the world’s largest tropical forest suddenly starts retreating in a warming climate, energy supply blacks out, or cells turn carcinogenic, complex-systems science understands this as a transition between two such states. These transitions are obviously unwanted. As they typically result from severe external perturbations, it is of vital interest how stable the most desirable state is. Surprisingly, this basic question has so far received little attention. Now scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), in a paper published in Nature Physics, propose a new concept for quantifying stability.
12/17/2012 - In the early history of planet Earth, the Sun was up to 25 per cent less luminous than today. Yet there is strong evidence that the Earth’s oceanic surface was not completely frozen. High concentrations of warming greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) seem to be the most obvious solution to this famous “faint young Sun paradox”. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) analyzed in computer simulations how much CO2 in the atmosphere was necessary to prevent the early Earth from falling into a “snowball state”. They found the critical amount to be significantly higher than previously assumed, according to their study now published in Geophysical Research Letters. This sheds light on the environment on early Earth during a time when life first appeared on our planet.
12/12/2012 - Stronger snowfall increases future ice discharge from Antarctica. Global warming leads to more precipitation as warmer air holds more moisture – hence earlier research suggested the Antarctic ice sheet might grow under climate change. Now a study published in Nature shows that a lot of the ice gain due to increased snowfall is countered by an acceleration of ice-flow to the ocean. Thus Antarctica’s contribution to global sea-level rise is probably greater than hitherto estimated, the team of authors from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) concludes.
„Promoting evidence-based decision-making“: Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute
05.12.2012 - Qatar Foundation in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) announced the creation of a pioneering climate change research institute. It will be the first of its kind “in a country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels,” PIK’s director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said. “Qatar declares to confront the climate challenge, and to do so by promoting research and evidence-based decision-making. This might be a turning point for a transition towards sustainability.” The science is clear, Schellnhuber said, that global greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption “have to decrease sharply by 2020 if we want to avoid dangerous climate change”.
12/03/2012 - Economic growth does not only lead to rising turnovers and incomes but also increases greenhouse-gas emissions. Can “Green Growth” be a way out of this dilemma? Is it “a fairytale or a strategy”? Right now, issues like this are being debated at the international climate summit in Doha. Two scientists explored solution paths at the Climate Lecture at Technische Universität Berlin this Monday in front of 1000 guests – British growth critic Professor Tim Jackson and the chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor at TU Berlin, Ottmar Edenhofer.
11/28/2012 - The rate of sea-level rise in the past decades is greater than projected by the latest assessments of the IPCC, while global temperature increases in good agreement with its best estimates. This is shown by a study now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and his colleagues compare climate projections to actual observations from 1990 up to 2011. That sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low as well, their results suggest.
11/19/2012 - Humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases are breaking new records every year. Hence we’re on a path towards 4-degree global warming probably as soon as by the end of this century. This would mean a world of risks beyond the experience of our civilization – including heat waves, especially in the tropics, a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, and regional yield failures impacting global food security. These are some of the results of a report for the World Bank, conducted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics in Berlin. The poorest in the world are those that will be hit hardest, making development without climate policy almost impossible, the researchers conclude.
10/01/2012 - Incremental costs due to policy options restricting the use of nuclear power do not significantly increase the cost of even stringent greenhouse-gas emissions reductions. By applying a global energy-economy computer simulation that fully captures the competition between alternative power supply technologies, a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Dayton, Ohio, analyzed trade-offs between nuclear and climate policies. Strong greenhouse-gas emissions reduction to mitigate global warming shows to have much larger impact on economics than nuclear policy, according to the study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
09/27/2012 - Industrialized countries can profit from taking early action for climate change mitigation even if the rest of the world delays greenhouse gas emission cuts. With the 2 degrees target of limiting global warming, it pays in the long term to incentivize investments into clean energy instead of fossil fuels by adopting ambitious emission reductions. This is one of the key findings of scientists exploring the economics of decarbonization in an imperfect world, in a set of seven papers now published in a special issue of Climatic Change. They will feed into the 5th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
09/23/2012 - From rubber dinghies to television sets: the emissions of greenhouse gases in countries like China are to a significant extent caused by the production of goods that are exported to Germany or the United States. But this doesn´t necessarily mean that Western countries have relocated their emission-intensive industries and hence escape regulation for climate protection. This is shown in a study appearing in Nature Climate Change this week. Instead, researchers were able to pin down a number of factors explaining the pronounced imbalances between emission importers and exporters, the US current account deficit being one of them. Their conclusion: interventions in world trade, like CO2 tariffs, would probably have only a small impact on global emissions.
09/16/2012 - Coral reefs face severe challenges even if global warming is restricted to the 2 degrees Celsius commonly perceived as safe for many natural and man-made systems. Warmer sea surface temperatures are likely to trigger more frequent and more intense mass coral bleaching events. Only under a scenario with strong action on mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions and the assumption that corals can adapt at extremely rapid rates, could two thirds of them be safe, shows a study now published in Nature Climate Change. Otherwise all coral reefs are expected to be subject to severe degradation.
07/06/2012 - Some of the world’s spearheading climate scientists will convene in Potsdam to contribute their knowledge to young, international up-and-coming researchers and practitioners beginning on July 8th. Over the following two weeks, instead of heading to the beaches they will focus on confronting the risks of climate warming in the face of uncertainties and extreme events. This is the “Global Sustainability Summer School 2012” (GSSS), an intensive professional development course for specialists, organized jointly between the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in New Mexico. The GSSS is made possible by the generous support of the Robert Bosch Foundation.
06/24/2012 - Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several metres in coming centuries, if global warming carries on. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, global-mean sea level could continue to rise, reaching between 1.5 and 4 metres above present-day levels by the year 2300, with the best estimate being at 2.7 metres, according to a study just published in Nature Climate Change. However, emissions reductions that allow warming to drop below 1.5 degrees Celsius could limit the rise strongly.
“A house for the 21th century“: To celebrate its 20th anniversary, PIK is laying the foundation stone for a new research building
06/20/2012 - Climate research in Potsdam will get a new home. Adjacent to the historic main buildings of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) dating from the 19th century, a new energy-optimized building will come into existence. The laying of the foundation stone for this exceptional new research building also marks PIK’s 20th anniversary. Representatives of science and politics congratulated the institute, underlining that it has become one of the world’s leading climate research centres.