News

RD4 - Complexity Science
 

Rainfall extremes are connected across continents: Nature study

31.01.2019 - Extreme rainfall events in one city or region are connected to the same kind of events thousands of kilometers away, an international team of experts finds in a study now published in one of the world’s leading scientific journals, Nature. They discovered a global connection pattern of extreme rainfall – this could eventually improve weather forecasts and hence help to limit damages and protect people. Extreme rainfall events are on the rise due to human-caused climate change, which makes the study even more relevant. The researchers developed a new method rooted in complex systems science to analyze satellite data. The revealed extreme rainfall patterns are likely linked to giant airflows known as jetstreams that circle the globe high up in the atmosphere, forming huge waves between the Equator and the Poles.
Read More

Call for Abstracts: Conference on Socio-Economic Metabolism organized by PIK

21/01/2019 - This year's Conference of the Socio-Economic Metabolism Section (SEM) of the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE), founded by the New York Academy of Sciences, is organized by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Chaired by Helga Weisz, head of PIK’s future lab “Social Metabolism and Impacts”, and Peter-Paul Pichler from research domain “Complexity Science”, the meeting will be held in Berlin 13-15 May 2019. The conference aims to share ideas and knowledge of the current and cutting edge socio-economic metabolism research among researchers, academics, and industry experts. The call for abstracts is still open, until January 30.
Read More

Planetary Waves drive South America’s Monsoon rains

12/20/2018 - Monsoon rainfall in South America is to a large extent driven by huge airstreams high up in the atmosphere, a new study finds. Using innovative methods to explore teleconnections between different parts of the world, the scientists found evidence that the so-called Rossby waves – airstreams swinging from the tropics to Antarctica and back while circling the globe – are key for the variability in regional precipitation especially in parts of Brazil and Argentina. This has been assumed before but, to the knowledge of the authors, never been properly conceptualized and detected in actual data.
Read More

Ten PIK researchers among the most influential scientists in the world

29/11/2018 - Ten scientists, coming from different research domains from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are among the most highly cited researchers worldwide, according to a new ranking just published. Therewith, they are among the most influential scientifists in the world, their studies among the top 1% of scientific literature. Whether natural sciences or social sciences, PIK is one of the most renowned research institutions in Germany and worldwide, as the now published ranking once again shows.
Read More

Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” state

06/08/2018 - Keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed. An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of the planet entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says. The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy.
Read More

Better be safe than sorry: economic optimization risks tipping of important Earth system elements

06/15/2018 - Optimizing economic welfare without constraints might put human well-being at risk, a new climate study argues. While being successful in bringing down costs of greenhouse gas reductions for instance, the concept of profit maximization alone does not suffice to avoid the tipping of critical elements in the Earth system which could lead to dramatic changes of our livelihood. The scientists use mathematical experiments to compare economic optimization to the governance concepts of sustainability and the more recent approach of a safe operating space for humanity. All of these turn out to have their benefits and deficits, yet the profit-maximizing approach shows the greatest likelihood of producing outcomes that harm people or the environment.
Read More

PIKturing our future: The young scientists’ visions for the institute

06/05/2018 - Once a year, the doctoral candidates of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) gather to discuss their research and exchange ideas. This year’s "PhD day" aimed at giving young scientists the possibility to think about and discuss their visions, wishes and ideas for the future of the institute. What do young scientists need to be able to perform excellent science? In what areas do they need more support and in what way? How can they interact with society during their work?
Read More

Early Summer Monsoon forecast for India

05/07/2018 - the Indian Summer Monsoon will likely reach Central India between 11 and 19 June, according to the new forecast method developed at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The unique forecast had been developed specially for the central part of India where, before, early forecasting has never been made. The novel approach based on an analysis of observational data allows predicting the monsoon onset date 40 days in advance. Elena Surovyatkina leads the forecasts that showed to be successful already two years in a row. The monsoon onset date is of crucial importance for hundreds of millions of people in India. Climate change affects monsoon variability and hence makes accurate forecasting even more important.
Read More

Girls'Day: PIK opens up doors and new perspectives to young and female future scientists

26/04/2018 - At this year's Girls'Day, schoolgirls from Berlin and Brandenburg had once again the opportunity to get to know the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and career perspectives in science. About their research on climate change and their work as a researcher at PIK, Levke Caesar and Christina Roolfs reported to the 19 pupils participating. The action day was initiated to open up new career perspectives in mathematical and the natural sciences for girls and young women.
Read More

More than 14.000 Earth scientists meet in Vienna

06/04/2018 - The European Geophysical Union’s (EGU) general assembly in Vienna is one of the world's greatest scientific events – from 8 to 13 April, it attracts more than 14.000 scientists. Numerous experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) give talks and participate in debates. A distinguished role is attributed to Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of PIK’s Earth System Analysis department, research domain 1. He has been asked to hold the first-ever EGU public lecture at the Vienna Museum for Natural History: “After Paris: Can we still control the climate crisis?”
Read More

Social and Natural science together: New Co-Directors to lead the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

23/02/2018 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is reinventing itself – appointing a twin leadership bringing together natural sciences and social sciences stronger than ever. In late September, the German climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer and the Swedish Earth system scientist Johan Rockström will become directors of the internationally renowned institute which is a member of the Leibniz Association. This was decided on Friday by the institute's Board of Trustees, headed by the Brandenburg Ministry of Science, Research and Culture and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The retirement of the founding director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber this autumn after a quarter of a century as the head of the institute marks the beginning of a new era in Potsdam.
Read More

Coalition-building for pricing CO2 could make sense even for egoistic countries

02/26/2018 - Even countries that tend to act in an egoistic way in the long run have an incentive to participate in international climate stabilization pathways and couple CO2 pricing systems, a new game-theoretical study shows. Yet they might only do this if pioneer coalitions for pricing greenhouse gas emissions make the first steps. If this is the case, the egoistic countries temporarily enjoy the benefits of avoided climate change without paying for it, but in the longer term can join the pioneers and link to their already established models of CO2 pricing. Forming larger and larger coalitions always reaps additional benefits of avoided damages from climate change. These benefits, even though unequally distributed across the coalition members, can be distributed via financial transfers. This makes it attractive to join, even for egoistic countries.
Read More

PIK Research Days: “Keep digging in your pockets”

02/23/2018 - Scientists and staff of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) gathered this week for their annual roadshow of scientific achievements and discussions of future projects. Climate negotiations, climate migration, public health, sea-level legacy, jet streams, ice losses at Antarctica, carbon pricing – these were just some of the topics presented by PIK’s four research domains. This year’s research days focused in particular on the upcoming 1.5°C IPCC special report as well as on global change, big data and digitalization.
Read More

PIK´s Jürgen Kurths ranked as one of the most cited researchers

01/04/2018 – Jürgen Kurths was ranked as one of the most highly cited researchers in his field in 2017. His papers account for the top 1% of literature quoted in engineering sciences globally. The co-chair of research domain Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Head of Nonlinear Dynamics at Humboldt-University in Berlin publishes numerous research articles in high-ranking scientific journals every year.
Read More

Detecting abrupt transitions – be it in ocean heat or financial markets

01/03/2018 - From stock indices to sea surface temperatures, a lot of relevant data comes in the form of time series. Reliable detection of abrupt transitions such as a downswing of stock values or water warming during an El Niño event in the Pacific is obviously important, but most analyses fail to take into account the uncertainties in the data. The challenge is to distinguish sudden changes while being aware of the underlying uncertainties. Although there are a number of change point detection methods, scientists now propose for the first time an approach that accurately represents the time series uncertainties and thus provide a more robust analysis.
Read More

Climate and public health: Leopoldina Dialogue in Potsdam

12/05/2017 - Climate change related risks for public health are one of the most important challenges of today. However, the science communities on both sides of the fence have so far not sufficiently interacted to reflect the critical nexus of climate change and health. Taking the first mover advantage, a workshop of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now brought together renowned scientists from climate sciences, health and medicine, psychology, environmental sciences, social sciences and economics. They will develop a publication offering stakeholder and decision-makers orientation on public health and climate policy.
Read More

PIK at G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue

01/12/2017 - The Inaugural Meeting of the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue took place in Berlin this week, starring the German, South African and Japanese Ministers of the Environment as well as a number of other high-ranking guests from politics, major corporations and institutions like OECD and the UN Environment Programme. In an effort to support the transition to a sustainable and efficient use of all natural resources and contribute to poverty eradication, the Resource Efficiency Dialogue was established during the G20 leaders´ meeting in Hamburg earlier this year.
Read More

“Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" kick-off: Reducing personal CO2 footprints in a living lab

30/11/2017 - 100 households, 365 days: Starting this December, private households in the German capital will be testing what climate action means in everyday life in the project "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" (Klimaneutral Leben in Berlin - KliB). From families with children to partnerships, flat-sharing communities or singles - for one year, the voluntary housholds will document their personal carbon footprint and learn about ways to improve their own climate balance. They will be supported by experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The KliB living lab intends to show how climate protection can be implemented in our everyday life, where potential problems lie and what politicians could do to overcome them.
Read More

Cities can cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their urban borders

11/07/2017 - Greenhouse gas emissions caused by urban households’ purchases of goods and services from beyond city limits are much bigger than previously thought. These upstream emissions may occur anywhere in the world and are roughly equal in size to the total emissions originating from a city’s own territory, a new study shows. This is not bad news but in fact offers local policy-makers more leverage to tackle climate change, the authors argue in view of the UN climate summit COP23 that just started. They calculated the first internationally comparable greenhouse gas footprints for four cities from developed and developing countries: Berlin, New York, Mexico City, and Delhi. Contrary to common beliefs, not consumer goods like computers or sneakers that people buy are most relevant, but housing and transport – sectors that cities can substantially govern.
Read More

Many PIK scientists at COP23 in Bonn

03/11/2017 - A number of experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) will take part in the climate summit COP23, taking place from November 6-17 in Bonn and presided by Fiji. PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber will present the ten things you need to know about climate change, together with UNFCCC´s Patricia Espinosa, for example. At a side event with experts from the ETH Zürich, the ACT Alliance and Bread for the World, PIK´s chief economist Ottmar Edenhofer will discuss how to implement equity in the framework of the Paris Agreement.
Read More

“We need you”: UN climate chief to Potsdam climate scientists

10/13/2017 - Hundreds of millions of people will be affected by climate change impacts and their implications for health or migration already within the next few decades, sectors that so far often get overlooked in this context. This is one of the insights of the Impacts World Conference organised by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany this week. About 500 scientists from 67 countries were gathering at the conference with the title “Counting the true costs of climate change” to push climate impact research to the next level by better integrating socio-economic factors. At the same time, the institute celebrated its 25th anniversary hosting this meeting of the global impacts research community, in the spirit of its mission followed for a quarter century: further advancing scientific progress and communicating insights to stakeholders.
Read More

Successful earliest forecast of onset and withdrawal of the Indian Summer Monsoon

10/18/2017 – For the second year in a row, a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) successfully predicted the onset and withdrawal of the Indian Summer Monsoon in the central part of India more than a month in advance. The PIK-results have just been confirmed by factual dates of onset and withdrawal of the monsoon determined by the Indian Meteorological Department. While meteorological services currently forecast the monsoon onset only two weeks in advance, the long-term forecast project lead by Elena Surovyatkina predicts the onset date 40 days in advance, and the withdrawal date 70 days in advance and is therewith the earliest prediction method of the monsoon for the central part of India.
Read More

Investigating teleconnections of weather extremes: GOTHAM Summer School

09/22/2017 - To investigate teleconnections and their role in causing extreme weather events, twenty-five young scientists from all over the world have been gathering this week at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Firstly, when the weather is changing in one place on Earth, this can influence rain or wind or temperatures in another distant place. Investigating this issue using cutting-edge mathematics is front and centre at this year’s GOTHAM summer school – Globally Observed Teleconnections and their role and representation in Hierarchies of Atmospheric Models.
Read More

Potsdam Summer School explores the future of cities

09/04/2017 - The rapid pace of change around the world is presenting humankind and human environments with tremendous challenges. What solutions and strategies can we employ to future-proof our cities in the age of climate change? Experts from 30 countries will meet to discuss these issues with leading sustainability researchers at the 2017 Potsdam Summer School on 4 – 13 September. Their findings will be presented to the public in a memorandum on 13 September.
Read More

PIK ranked among top five climate think tanks worldwide

07/05/2017 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was again ranked among the best climate think tanks worldwide. The new Climate Think Tank Ranking by the International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG) places PIK among the top five climate think tanks globally and among the top three of climate thinks tanks in Europe. Altogether the ranking considers 240 cutting-edge institutions working in the field of climate change economics and policy. Based on a solid quantitative methodology and analytical data, the ICCG lists non-university affiliated think tanks in an absolute and a standardized ranking – the first measures the think tank’s efficiency in per capita/researcher terms, whilst the latter measures performance regardless of their efficiency and hence size.
Read More

Networking and training: PhD-Day at PIK

05/10/2017 - A whole day to get together, share experiences and train in different science related fields: The doctoral candidates of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research met for a conference recently to discuss their work and compare notes with each other on their theses. Next to new PhD candidates that introduced their work to their colleagues, the day focused on several inputs on topics like communication, time management, slide writing and presentation techniques. There are currently 73 young researchers from 18 countries working on their PhDs across all four PIK research domains.
Read More

Dynamics in power systems: from science to industry

06/12/2017 - Power grids face new challenges due to climate change. While global warming from fossil fuel emissions forces us to replace coal plants by energy input from clean sources such as solar and wind, the latter are more variable and hence not easy to integrate. A meeting of experts from both science and industry at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now aims at transferring findings from mathematical research on grid stability to the practioners.
Read More

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.
Read More

Building trust, not hate: When people know each other, cooperation is more likely than conflict

03/30/2017 - When anonymity between people is lifted, they more likely cooperate with each other. Playing nice can thereby become a winning strategy, an international team of scientists shows in a study to be published in Science Advances. The findings are based on experiments with a limited number of participants but might have far-reaching implications, if confirmed. Reducing anonymity could help social networks such as Facebook or Twitter that suffer from hate and fake news. It might also help in conflicts about environmental resources.
Read More

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.
Read More