News

RD 2 - Climate Resilience

Bright minds at PIK

05/05/2017 - As one of the leading institutions in the field of climate impact research, PIK seeks to employ the brightest minds in its workforce. Their efforts result not only in excellent scientific output and a continually growing number of peer-reviewed ISI publications, but also a large number of professorships in Germany and abroad.
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Weather extremes and trade policies were main drivers of wheat price peaks

04/28/2017 - Price peaks of wheat on the world market are mainly caused by production shocks such as induced for example by droughts, researchers found. These shocks get exacerbated by low storage levels as well as protective trade policies, the analysis of global data deriving from the US Department of Agriculture shows. In contrast to widespread assumptions, neither speculation across stock or commodity markets nor land-use for biofuel production were decisive for annual wheat price changes in the past four decades. This finding allows for better risk assessment. Soaring global crop prices in some years can contribute to local food crises, and climate change from burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases is increasing weather variability.
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Congratulations Dr. Julia Lutz!

04/06/2017 On the 6th of April 2017, RD2 student Julia Lutz successfully defended her PhD thesis 'Application and improvement of the Statistical Analogue Resampling Scheme STARS' at the University of Bonn.
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G20 policy brief on sustainable agriculture and ending hunger

03/31/2017 - In a policy brief for the G20, an expert group urges the governments of the world's leading economies to track progress on the state of food security and, based on this, to scale investment opportunities and target their interventions. Hermann Lotze-Campen, head of the research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, contributed to this report which is part of the Think Tank 20 (T20) process under Germany’s G20 presidency.
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"We should eat more vegetables": Podcast with Benjamin Bodirsky on animal-climate-action.org

03/26/2017 "We should eat more vegetables": In a conversation with Friederike Schmitz, the agricultural economist Benjamin Bodirsky from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research talks about the environmental and climatic consequences of agricultural production, about nitrogen and methane, food waste, meat consumption and good nutrition.
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T20 blog post by Hermann Lotze-Campen: "In praise of free trade"

03/10/2017 - As a part of the T20 process - a collaboration of global think tanks and high-level experts to provide analytical depth to G20 discussions - Hermann Lotze-Campen wrote a blog entry: "In praise of free trade".
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Congratulations Dr. Boris Prahl!

On the 20th of January 2017, RD2 PhD student Boris Prahl successfully defended his PhD thesis on "Damage Functions for the Estimation of Storm Loss and their Generalization for Climate-Related Hazards" at Freie Universität Berlin.
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Congratulations Dr. Judith Stagl!

Our RD2 PhD student Judith Stagl successfully defended her PhD thesis "'Ecosystems' exposure to climate change – Modeling as support for nature conservation management" on 12th January 2017 at Potsdam University.
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Sharing insights, shaping the future: PIK Research Days

02/10/2017 - This week, all scientists and staff of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) gathered for their annual roadshow of scientific achievements and discussions of future projects. Packed with presentations and debates, PIK´s Research Days are an unequalled opportunity to share insights and shape the future course of the institute.
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"Transformation now": Earth League meets in Potsdam

01/23/2017 - Some of the most distinguished international climate experts are gathering in Potsdam this week for a symposium of the Earth League, a self-organized initiative of leading researchers on global change. During two days, they will discuss how the Great Transformation towards sustainability can be brought about. The success of the Paris climate agreement aiming at completely decarbonizing our economies within a few decades is by no means ensured; fulfilling its objectives requires a ratcheting-up of ambitions through social, political and economic progress.
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Harvests in the US to suffer from climate change

01/19/2017 - Some of the most important crops risk substantial damage from rising temperatures. To better assess how climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions will likely impact wheat, maize and soybean, an international team of scientists now ran an unprecedentedly comprehensive set of computer simulations of US crop yields. The simulations were shown to reproduce the observed strong reduction in past crop yields induced by high temperatures, thereby confirming that they capture one main mechanism for future projections. Importantly, the scientists find that increased irrigation can help to reduce the negative effects of global warming on crops – but this is possible only in regions where sufficient water is available. Eventually limiting global warming is needed to keep crop losses in check.
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Water Future: PIK chairs new working group on groundwater management

23/12/2016 - Groundwater has contributed greatly to increasing food security by ensuring water availability for irrigation at critical times. Today, 43 percent of global food production depends on groundwater use. However, water reserves are not endless, and climate change puts additional pressure on groundwater management. A new transdisciplinary and international research group on Water Management in the Future Earth Framework will address these challenges, co-chaired by Anne Biewald of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). As part of the Sustainable Water Future Programme, several research groups will bring together the best international expertise to drive solutions to the world’s water problems.
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How fair are the countries' climate pledges?

12/19/2016 - Benchmarks to guide countries in ratcheting-up their ambition to remain well-below 2°C and pursue 1,5°C in an equitable manner are critical but not yet determined in the context of the Paris Agreement. A new study published in Nature Climate Change analyzes the national climate targets needed to meet the 1.5°C and 2°C goals according to five different equity principles, and how these compare with the current climate pledges.
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Consumption, climate change and agriculture

16/12/2016 - The holiday season is in full swing and many enjoy the opportunity to feast – or to make new year resolutions for a healthier diet. What we eat is more than a private decision – the agriculture and land use sector is one of the central players in ambitious climate change mitigation efforts. Yet, mitigation policies in agriculture may conflict with food security. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research analyzed the impacts on food prices under mitigation policies – targeting either incentives for producers or consumer preferences. They show that policy instruments to mitigate climate change with an educational approach to change food preferences can avoid unwanted impacts of climate change mitigation measures on food security.
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The Potsdam Institute at COP22 in Marrakech

11/09/2016 - Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are attending the current UN climate summit COP22 in Marrakesch from November 7 to 18. Amongst other events, PIK Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber will speak at a side-event of the German Advisory Council on Global Change on the science-policy dialogue to reach Paris targets. PIK chief economist Ottmar Edenhofer will discuss the potential of the Paris Agreement in a side event with colleagues from Arizona State University, Harvard Kennedy School and others.
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Climate change: Trade liberalization could buffer economic losses in agriculture

08/25/2016 - Global warming could create substantial economic damage in agriculture, a new study conducted by a team of scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) finds. Around the globe, climate change threatens agricultural productivity, forcing up food prices. While financial gains and losses differ between consumers and producers across the regions, bottom line is that consumers in general will likely have to pay more for the same basket of food. As the additional expenditure for consumers outweighs producers’ gains, increasing net economic losses will occur in the agriculture and food sector towards the end of the century. However, economic losses could be limited to 0.3 percent of global GDP – depending on agricultural trade policies.
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Can we economically outgrow climate change damages? Not for hurricanes we can't

08/16/2016 - When hurricanes like Katrina in 2005 or Sandy in 2012 impact on highly populated regions they bring about tremendous damages. More than 50 percent of all weather-related economic losses on the globe are caused by damages due to tropical cyclones. Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now analyzed the magnitude of future hurricane losses in relation to economic growth. Showcasing the United States they found that financial losses per hurricane could triple by the end of the century in unmitigated climate change, while annual losses could on average rise by a factor of eight. Most importantly and contrary to prevalent opinion, they conclude that economic growth will not be able to counterbalance the increase in damage.
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Flood damages in Germany could multiply under climate change

07/19/2016 - Flood-related losses can be expected to increase considerably in Germany as a result of climate change, a new study shows. Extreme events like the severe floods along the river Elbe have already illustrated the potentially devastating consequences of certain weather conditions such as severe rainfall events, when continuing intense rain can no longer be absorbed by the soil and water levels in the rivers rise. Without appropriate adaptation, flood-related damage of currently about 500 million euros a year could multiply in the future, the comprehensive expert analysis published in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences highlights.
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Young scientists meet at PIK: What comes after a PhD?

Young scientist from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) discussed their working routines and career perspectives with regard to their doctorate. Once a year the “PhD-Day” offers the opportunity to meet up in the whole group of PhD candidates to share experiences, talk about research projects and train in science related skills. The focus of the current meeting was on possible career steps following the doctoral thesis.
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Migration in the age of climate change

05/20/2016 - Migration is currently a no 1 issue in Germany as well as Europe – but what will future migration look like globally, in the age of climate risks? Where is environmental migration happening already today, and what can we learn from it? The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) teamed up with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) - the biggest intergovernmental institution in the field - for a media briefing in Berlin. Migration is mostly driven by a multitude of factors – be it political, social, demographic, economic, or by security concerns - and almost never by a single cause. At the same time, global environmental change, and specifically climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, is an additional and potentially severe risk factor.
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Leibniz President Kleiner visits PIK

01/27/2016 - The president of Leibniz Association, Matthias Kleiner, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for an exchange on current projects and developments. Among other topics the focus of the meetings was also on research strategies. Kleiner met with PIK Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber as well as with the Chairs of PIK’s four research domains.
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Tracing observed climate impacts to greenhouse gas emissions

01/28/2016 - Roughly two-thirds of observed climate change impacts related to atmospheric and ocean temperature over the past 40 years can be confidently attributed to human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, an international team of scientists found. For the impacts observed not just on regional but on continental scales, even three quarters are mainly due to our burning of burning fossil fuels. Evidence connecting changes in precipitation and their respective impacts to human influence is still weak, but is expected to grow.
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New top German IPCC scientist visits PIK

2016/01/25 - The newly elected top German scientist in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Hans-Otto Pörtner, visited the Potsdam Institute (PIK) this week for an intense exchange about challenges of the next climate science assessment report. It will be the sixth of its kind and due in 2022. Pörtner, a senior biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, heads the part of the report assessing climate change impacts. This is a core research issue of PIK. What is more, for half a decade PIK’s chief economist was head of the IPCC’s working group on mitigation.
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Historic climate agreement: “The spirits of Paris have defeated the ghosts of Copenhagen"

12/14/2015 - 195 states worldwide adopted a breakthrough climate agreement at the UN climate summit in Paris, COP21. Leading scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research actively participated in the historic meeting that put the world on the path to limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and bring down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades. While implementing the treaty will be an enormous challenge, for the first time ever climate stabilization and hence limiting climate risks including weather extremes and sea-level rise comes into reach. It is the beginning, not the end, of a process that now requires rapid implementation strong policy instruments that live up to the aspirations of the agreement.
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Unprecedented number of briefings in run-up of climate summit

11/16/2015 - In the run-up of the much anticipated UN climate summit in Paris, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are involved in an unprecedented number of briefings and public events. In this crucial time, stakeholders and media increasingly ask for the perspective of science on the state of the Earth and perspectives for climate policy. Yet PIK scientists also try to directly inform interested citizens. It is impossible to provide a complete list of all such outreach efforts, but here are some noteworthy examples.
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Climate change may affect global food costs - and vulnerability to hunger

11/09/2015 - Unabated man-made climate change would likely increase the risk of hunger through rising food costs, a paper by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact (PIK) shows. The findings contribute to a major World Bank Report now published. The Potsdam paper investigates three key regions vulnerable to hunger – Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa – and shows that each region faces severe problems already by 2030, but that the structure of the problems strongly differs. The risks substantially increase over time if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to the computer simulations.
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Global food demand scenarios for the 21st century: new online tool

11/05/2015 - Global food demand will double until mid-century, and in particular the demand for animal products will rise rapidly, a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research shows. The development of future diets is not only crucial for food security and nutrition, but also for greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Using a new simple and transparent tool, the scientists investigated different scenarios for future calorie demand around the globe. Their results are visualized in an interactive online application, enabling interested parties to explore the future demand for plant and animal products per capita and day on a continental scale.
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If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C

10/26/2015 - Though most countries around the globe agree that warming must be limited to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the raft of climate risks, they clash about who should do what to reach this target. Hence the issue of allocating greenhouse-gas emissions reductions will be key for the outcome of the world climate summit COP21 in Paris. Scientists now found what amount of emissions reductions it takes for a major economy to lead out of the climate gridlock. They conclude that effectively limiting climate change is possible if a major economy acts as a forerunner, while other nations follow – and, importantly, by doing so they do not have to agree on common criteria for fairness.
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Longterm Potsdam measurements confirm aerosol effect

10/15/2015 - Longterm measurements from the Potsdam weather station are confirming assumptions about the effects of greenhouse-gases and aerosols in the atmosphere used in current computer simulations of the climate system. Tiny particles in the atmosphere, emitted for instance from coal power plants, reduce the amount of solar radiation that hits the ground - hence they have some cooling effect. This effect is correctly represented in climate models, shows a new analysis of weather data recorded in Potsdam since 1937. This series of continued measurements is one of the longest on Earth.
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Debate in the run-up to Paris

09/10/2015 - What´s in store at the next climate conference, COP21, later this year? This week, staff of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research gathered for an exchange of insights and perspectives. There were a number of contributions from post-docs and senior scientists on the latest research that stimulated a vibrant discussion.
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