News

RD4 - Complexity Science
 

Climate costs smallest if warming is limited to 2°C

27/01/2020 - Climate costs are likely smallest if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius. The politically negotiated Paris Agreement is thus also the economically sensible one, Potsdam researchers find in a new study. Using computer simulations of a model by US Nobel Laureate William Nordhaus, they weight climate damages from, for instance, increasing weather extremes or decreasing labour productivity against the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emission by phasing out coal and oil. Interestingly, the economically most cost-efficient level of global warming turns out to be the one more than 190 nations signed as the Paris Climate Agreement. So far however, CO2 reductions promised by nations worldwide are insufficient to reach this goal.
Read More

New approach in El Niño forecasting potentially doubles the lead-time and helps forecasting its magnitude

06.01.2020 - El Niño, probably the most far-ranging climate phenomena on Earth, is likely to hit again in 2020, as groundbreaking research by PIK and others has shown. Now, PIK researchers also found a new way to improve forecasts regarding its magnitude using data from air and sea surface temperature series.
Read More

Artificial Intelligence: applying ‚Deep Reinforcement Learning‘ for sustainable development

20/12/2019 - For the first time, a specific way of machine learning has been used to find novel pathways for sustainable development. So far, the so-called 'Deep Reinforcement Learning' has mostly been used to make computers excel in certain games, such as AlphaGo, or navigate robots through rough terrain. Now, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research developed a mathematical framework combining recently developed machine learning techniques with more classical analysis of trajectories in computer simulations of the global climate system and the global economy. The results, published in the interdisciplinary journal on nonlinear phenomena 'Chaos', are promising.
Read More

COP25: PIK experts in Madrid

02.12.2019 - "Time for Action": About 25,000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the UN Climate Conference COP25 from December 2-13 in Madrid, Spain. "We stand at a critical juncture in our collective efforts to limit dangerous global heating", UN General Secretary António Guterres said at the Opening Ceremony of COP25 in the Spanish Capital. "Millions throughout the world – especially young people – are calling on leaders from all sectors to do more, much more, to address the climate emergency we face. They know we need to get on the right path today, not tomorrow. That means important decisions must be made now," he stressed in his remarks.
Read More

Ten PIK researchers among the most influential scientists worldwide: ranking

29.11.2019 - According to a new Clarivate ranking, ten scientists from all research areas of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are among the most cited researchers worldwide. This places them among the most influential scientists in the world, and their studies rank among the top 1% of scientific literature. Whether natural or social sciences, PIK is among the most renowned research institutions in Germany and worldwide, as the recently published ranking shows.
Read More

Leibniz PhD General Assembly gathers at PIK

26/09/2019 - PhD students from all disciplines of the Leibniz Association are gathering this week in Potsdam to discuss their research, exchange ideas and network. Hosted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the two day Leibniz PhD Network General Assembly brings together doctoral researchers for an elaborate programme including talks, discussions and the election of spokespersons. The students were welcomed by Ingo Bräuer, head of PIK's science coordination and transfer, at PIK on Telegrafenberg Science Campus.
Read More

Indian monsoon forecast: early warning for risk of flooding in October

The Indian Summer Monsoon is likely to withdraw from the Central part of India between 14th and 24th October 2019. The unique forecast, made for 70 days in advance, is the only available long-term forecast in India. Elena Surovyatkina, climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, leads the forecasts that showed to be successful already three years in a row. The monsoon withdrawal date is of crucial importance for billion of people in India. In a warming world, severe storms and floods during monsoon retreat are becoming more frequent. Such a long-term forecast could help Government to do strategic planning, consolidate resources, and strengthen capacity to respond effectively to disasters.
Read More

Sea level rise: West Antarctic ice collapse may be prevented by snowing ocean water onto it

18/07/2019 - The ice sheet covering West Antarctica is at risk of sliding off into the ocean. While further ice-sheet destabilisation in other parts of the continent may be limited by a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the slow, yet inexorable loss of West Antarctic ice is likely to continue even after climate warming is stabilised. A collapse might take hundreds of years but will raise sea levels worldwide by more than three meters. A team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is now scrutinising a daring way of stabilising the ice sheet: Generating trillions of tons of additional snowfall by pumping ocean water onto the glaciers and distributing it with snow canons. This would mean unprecedented engineering efforts and a substantial environmental hazard in one of the world’s last pristine regions – to prevent long-term sea level rise for some of the world’s most densely populated areas along coastlines from the US to China.
Read More

Breaking the rules: Monsoon and climate change

26.06.2019 - With global warming the Monsoon is changing, breaking well-established “rules” of the phenomenon, becoming more and more erratic and unpredictable. Close to half of the global population depends on monsoon rainfall. For the fourth year in a row, Elena Surovyatkina from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) successfully predicted the onset of the Indian Summer Monsoon in the central part of India more than a month in advance with a new forecast method. This method accounts for climate change effects and hence makes forecasting possible.
Read More

CO2-pricing: German chancellor Angela Merkel visited PIK for a scientific briefing

14/06/2019 - For more than two hours, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) last Thursday, June 13th, to discuss climate change and climate policy with Director Ottmar Edenhofer and other researchers. A special focus of the meeting lay on options for an effective and fair CO2 pricing. Besides Mrs Merkel, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor, Helge Braun, spokesman State Secretary Steffen Seibert and experts from the Chancellery also took part. A good two dozen researchers from all research departments at PIK were involved in the round table discussion taking place the Great Cupola of PIK's historic Michelson building and presented research results on climate risks and possible solutions for the climate crisis.
Read More

Initiated instability in West Antarctica might be the fastest on the continent

13/06/2019 - All around the Antarctic coastline there are ice sheet instabilities waiting to be triggered. If this happens ice flows inexorably into the ocean and raises sea levels worldwide. The one region where instability likely has already been initiated by a warming of the ocean is probably the region which collapses faster than any other, find scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Even though the rapid ice loss takes decades to unfold and centuries to complete, the speed of ice loss from Antarctica is already a major driver of global sea level rise. It will affect hundreds of millions of people living near the world’s coastlines, from Miami to Shanghai.
Read More

Dutch royal couple visits Telegrafenberg

05/22/2019 - King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands visited the Albert Einstein Science Park on Potsdam's Telegrafenberg during their stay in the State of Brandenburg today. In the presence of Brandenburgs Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke and Minister of Science Martina Münch, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the GeoResearchCenter (GFZ) signed cooperation agreements with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and TU Delft. The agreements are on geothermal research and research on weather extremes.
Read More

The Long Night of the Sciences at PIK

20/05/2019 - In a few weeks, over 60 scientific institutions will be opening their doors to the public all across Berlin and Potsdam-Telegrafenberg. On June 15th from 17-24h, events will cover the natural sciences, engineering, social and cultural studies, medicine and much more. Whether it’s in lectures, science shows or in hands-on experiments, there is much to discover and to learn at the Long Night of the Sciences. Here is some information on the programme at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK):
Read More

PIK researchers issue new early forecast of Indian Summer Monsoon

05/07/2019 - The Indian Summer Monsoon will likely reach Central India between 10th and 18th of June 2019, according to the new forecast method developed at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). This forecast of the monsoon onset date issued more than one month in advance is the earliest and only one available in India to date. PIK scientist Elena Surovyatkina leads the Monsoon forecasts that showed to be successful already three years in a row. The monsoon onset date is of crucial importance for the 1.35 billion people in India – the livelihoods of about 70 percent of its population are directly related to farming and agriculture. Climate change affects monsoon variability and hence makes accurate forecasting even more important.
Read More

Greta Thunberg visits PIK at Telegrafenberg-Campus

03.04.2019 - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden recently visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, the 22-year-old activist of the German „Fridays for Future“-Movement, met with the Directors Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer and other experts from PIK. They discussed topics like the Paris Agreement and the latest insights from climate science and talked with scientists like Ricarda Winkelmann, Stefan Rahmstorf or Jessica Strefler, as well as PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, about their research at the institute.
Read More

Leibniz Start-Up Award for "elena international" from PIK

25/03/2019 - "Electricity network analysis" - the spin-off "elena" of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has been awarded the Leibniz Start-Up Award 2019. Endowed with 50,000 euros, the prize was awarded for a new application for the expansion of renewable energies in micro and island power systems.
Read More

Amazon forest can be trained by higher rainfall variability – but may be no match for climate change

25.02.2019 - The Amazon rainforest has evolved over millions of years and even through ice ages. Yet today, human influences and global climate change put this huge ecosystem at risk of large-scale dieback – with major consequences for its capability as a global CO2 sink. New research published in Nature Geoscience now reveals a key player in shaping the resilience of the Amazon, and finds that regions with generally higher rainfall variability are more resilient to current and future climate disturbances. However, despite this 'training effect', the Amazon rainforest might not be able to keep up with the pace of ongoing climate change, the study shows.
Read More

Monsoon forecasting for improved climate resilience in Sri Lanka

19/02/2019 - Monsoon prediction specialist Elena Surovyatkina from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) recently visited Sri Lanka on Government invitation for talks with representatives of the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, the Ministry of Disaster Management, the Meteorological Department and the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. Sri Lanka is a tropical insular state east of the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. In a warming world, floods or droughts during monsoon period could become more frequent, potentially affecting millions of people. Long-term monsoon forecasts could help make Sri Lanka more climate resilient.
Read More

Time series networks: “Transforming messy big data into something comprehensible”

04/02/2019 - A first in-depth review of time series networks has now been published by an international team of scientists in Physics Reports, one of the leading journals in its field. While both nonlinear time series analysis and complex networks theory are widely considered to be established areas of research, the combination of both approaches has now become an active field of scientific progress. The review discusses in great detail on more than 80 pages three main approaches. Examples that the authors touch upon reach from climatology to neurophysiology and economics. The team of authors is led by Yong Zou from East China Normal University, Shanghai, while all other authors are from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research, including Jürgen Kurths, co-chair of the department for Complexity Science.
Read More

PIK is the world's most influential climate think tank - Edenhofer, Schellnhuber, Rahmstorf are among most important German-speaking intellectuals

01/02/2019 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is the world's most influential environmental policy think tank, as the "Global Go To Think Tank Index Report 2018" just published by the University of Pennsylvania shows. On top of this, three PIK scientists are among the "most important German-speaking intellectuals" according to the new Cicero ranking: Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of PIK, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus, and Stefan Rahmstorf, Chair of PIK's research department "Earth System Analysis".
Read More

The living lab experiment "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" takes stock: Everyone can contribute to climate stabilization, but without politics it won’t succeed

31/01/2019 - "Climate-Neutral Living in Berlin" – for one year, more than 100 Berlin households have tried to shift to a more climate-friendly everyday life, from families with children, partners, flatmates to singles. In the living lab experiment headed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), households were reducing their climate footprint by an average of around 10 percent, even though they had, on average, already started the project 25 percent below the German average. The results of the project: in all sectors, from nutrition and consumption to electricity, heating and mobility, there is great potential for each and every one to reduce their CO2 emissions. But the experiment also shows where the limits of individual contributions to climate protection are, and where a political framework is necessary to set the stage for a more climate-friendly everyday life.
Read More

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