News

3 out of 10 climate science papers most referred to in news and social media feature PIK authors

01/06/2023 - In a ranking of climate science papers most referred to in news and social media, no less than 3 out of the top 10 papers feature authors from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The ranking is published by the renowned 'Carbon Brief' newsletter and is based on the papers' so-called Altmetric score. While this metric is certainly not perfect, it is a good indicator to help assess public perception of climate science publications.
Read More
Press Release

Overshooting climate targets could significantly increase risk for tipping cascades

12/22/2022 - Temporarily overshooting the climate targets of 1.5-2 degrees Celsius could increase the tipping risk of several Earth system elements by more than 70 percent compared to keeping global warming in line with the United Nations Paris Agreement range, a new risk analysis study by an international team of researchers shows. This tipping risk increases even if in the longer term the global temperature would stabilize within the Paris range. Avoiding an overshoot would hence limit the risks, the researchers conclude.
Read More
News

Early forests did not change the atmospheric CO2 level as much as previously thought

12/20/2022 - An international team of Earth scientists has discovered that the atmosphere contained far less CO2 than previously thought when forests emerged on our planet. The study published in Nature Communications alters a 30-year-old paradigm with important implications for understanding how land plants affect the climate.
Read More
News

Tipping Points in the Earth System: Potsdam Young Scientist Award for Nico Wunderling

11/25/2022 - Nico Wunderling was awarded the Young Scientist Prize of the state capital Potsdam for his research on tipping points in the Earth system. Mayor Mike Schubert awarded the post-doctoral researcher of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) the prize based on his scientifically and socially relevant work. Wunderling's work on "Nonlinear dynamics and interactions of tipping elements in the Earth system" addresses some of the particularly consequential impacts of human-induced global warming. His findings have been picked up by media around the world - including Guardian, Spiegel and Zeit. Nico Wunderling completed his PhD at the University of Potsdam and at PIK with a position in an international doctoral program and a doctoral fellowship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation.
Read More
News

Potsdam researchers amongst top 1% most cited worldwide

11/14/2022 - For the fifth year in a row, researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are among the top 1 percent of the globally most scientifically influential authors. The renowned "Highly Cited" ranking is published once a year by Clarivate Analytics' science platform Web of Science. The ranking is based on the number of times researchers are cited in other academics' works - one of the most important indicators of scientific relevance. Twelve PIK researchers are listed, just like last year, including the institute's directors, and from all research departments.
Read More
News

Astronomical cycles changed the climate 200 million years ago

10/11/2022 - The celestial bodies of the solar system also influence the Earth's climate cycles. The question of how this astronomical "heartbeat" changed the Earth's climate in an early warm period was investigated by an international team of geo- and climate researchers. Using simulations and data from drill cores, they were able to prove that astronomical cycles - in addition to shifts in continental plates and fluctuating CO2 levels in the atmosphere - drove climate changes around 200 million years ago. These new data from past warm climate phases with higher greenhouse gas concentrations can also be interesting for improved forecasts. The results were published in the scientific journal PNAS.
Read More
News

Register now for first Leibniz Network Integrated Earth System Research Conference

10/15/2022 - The first 'Integrated Earth System Research' Conference 2022, organized by the Leibniz Research Network carrying that same name, will take place in Potsdam on November 8th and 9th. Registration will close on 28 October. The meeting is dedicated to scientific advances towards a coherent understanding of the increasing human impacts on the Earth system, their societal consequences, and respective governance challenges. It brings together researchers from the natural, engineering, social sciences and the humanities for targeted dialogue and to intensify research collaboration.
Read More
News

Shifting Climate Zones: Sahel might get 50 % more rain by 2040

09/22/2022 - Climate change could turn one of Africa's driest regions into a very wet one by boosting the Monsoon circulation. New computer simulations show a significant future increase in seasonal rainfall in the Sahel under the current trend of global warming. A major increase in average rainfall might kick-in by 2040 already, which means that it is inevitable regardless of how future greenhouse gas emissions develop. Although crossing this new tipping point is potentially beneficial, it comes with substantial unknowns. The change could in fact be so big, it would be a major adaptation challenge for an already troubled region.
Read More
Press Release

Risk of passing multiple climate tipping points escalates above 1.5°C global warming

09/09/2022 - Multiple climate tipping points could be triggered if global temperature rises beyond 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, according to a major new analysis published in the journal Science. Even at current levels of global heating the world is already at risk of passing five dangerous climate tipping points, and risks increase with each tenth of a degree of further warming. An international research team synthesised evidence for tipping points, their temperature thresholds, timescales, and impacts from a comprehensive review of over 200 papers published since 2008, when climate tipping points were first rigorously defined.
Read More
Press Release

Extreme wildfires in Mediterranean countries provide lessons for climate-impacted Europe: Project FirEUrisk

08/15/2022 - The climate crisis is heating up forest fires in Europe. They are also increasingly occurring in northern regions, where they were previously rare in this severe form, researchers from the international FirEUrisk project have explained.
Read More
Press Release

Less rain in the forest: Amazon even more vulnerable than previously thought

08/02/2022 - For every three trees dying from drought in the Amazon rainforest, a fourth tree – even though not directly affected – will die, too. In simplified terms, that’s what researchers have now found using network analysis to understand the complex workings of one of Earth’s most valuable and biodiverse carbon sinks. The regions most at risk of turning into savannah are located on the forest’s Southern fringes, where continuous clearing for pasture or soy has already been weakening the forest’s resilience for years.
Read More
Press Release

Increase in heatwaves in western Europe linked to changes in the jet stream

07/05/2022- Heatwaves over Europe have increased three to four times faster than in the rest of the northern mid-latitudes like e.g. the US or Canada, a new study finds. An international team of scientists looked at observational data from the past 40 years and showed, for the first time, that this rapid increase is linked to changes in the atmospheric circulation. Large-scale winds at 5 to 10km height, the so-called jet stream, are changing over Eurasia. Periods during which the jet stream is split into two branches – so called double jet states – have become longer lasting. These double jet states explain almost all of the upward trend in heatwaves in western Europe, and around 30 percent over the larger European domain.
Read More
Press Release

"For a secure climate future": High-ranking guests at 30 years celebration of Potsdam Institute

06/30/2022 - High-ranking guests attended the 30th anniversary celebration of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) - from federal and Brandenburg politicians to a Nobel laureate. The institute, founded in 1992 and now employing a good 400 people, is needed more today than ever before in the worsening climate crisis, speeches said. The PIK Board of Directors thanked politicians as well as the scientists and all employees of PIK for their part in the success story.
Read More
News

Stephen Schneider Award for Stefan Rahmstorf

06/13/2022 - Stefan Rahmstorf, Head of Research, Department on Earth System Analysis of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), has received the twelfth annual Stephen H. Schneider Award for his outstanding Climate Science Communication to the public.
Read More
News

Planetary boundaries update: freshwater boundary exceeds safe limits

04/26/2022 - A reassessment of the planetary boundary for freshwater indicates that it has now been transgressed, according to an international team of researchers led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre and including the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. This conclusion is due to the inclusion of “green water” – the water available to plants – into the boundary assessment for the first time.
Read More
News

Combining climate and archeological data sheds new light on human origins

A study published in Nature by an international team of scientists provides clear evidence for a link between astronomically-driven climate change and human evolution.
Read More
News

Potsdam Summer School 2022: Towards a Sustainable Transformation

22/02/2022 - Climate, Energy and Nature in a Changing World – with this overarching theme the Potsdam Summer School will continue the transdisciplinary and interactive series of events that has been held annually in Potsdam, Germany since 2014. It brings together talented early-career scientists and young professionals operating in the private sector, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organisations from many different parts of the world to discuss frontier research questions on future sustainable development and contribute their insights at this exceptional opportunity to foster cooperation and an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas. The call for applications is now open!
Read More
Press Release

High impact climate events: Better adaptation through earlier prediction

11/16/2021 - The prediction of high impact climate phenomena can be substantially improved by a new mathematical approach that analyses the connectivity and patterns between geographical locations, scientists say in a new publication. This can potentially save thousands of lives and avoid billions in economic losses. Prediction times for events like El Niño, monsoons, droughts or extreme rainfall could be increased substantially, to a month or in some cases even a year in advance, depending on the type of the event. The new framework can thus become key for improving adaptation to the global warming crisis.
Read More
News

Hotter, wetter, drier: the science behind extreme weather events

10/22/2021 - Extreme weather events are on the rise. Are these events connected? Are they becoming more likely with global warming? In the new episode of the podcast ‘Sustain Ability. The Potsdam Dialogues - Science for a Safe Tomorrow’, experts Friederike Otto and Stefan Rahmstorf give insight into their latest research.
Read More
Press Release

Unprecedented rise of heat and rainfall extremes in observational data

10/7/2021 - A 90-fold increase in the frequency of monthly heat extremes in the past ten years compared to 1951-1980 has been found by scientists in observation data. Their analysis reveals that so-called 3-sigma heat events, which deviate strongly from what is normal in a given region, now on average affect about 9 percent of all land area at any time. Record daily rainfall events also increased in a non-linear way – on average, 1 in 4 rainfall records in the last decade can be attributed to climate change. Already today, extreme events linked to human-caused climate change are at unprecedented levels, the scientists say, and they must be expected to increase further.
Read More
News

New report from the Science Panel for the Amazon

09/28/2021 - The Science Panel for the Amazon (SPA) released an Executive Summary of the Amazon Assessment Report this week, a comprehensive scientific assessment of the state of the Amazon Basin. The report includes recommendations for sustainable development pathways for policy makers and governments. Over 200 renowned scientists from the Amazon and global partners, including scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, came together as the Science Panel for the Amazon to develop this report.
Read More
Press Release

Major Atlantic ocean current system might be approaching critical threshold

08/05/2021 - The major Atlantic ocean current, to which also the Gulf stream belongs, may have been losing stability in the course of the last century. This is shown in a new study published in Nature Climate Change. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, transports warm water masses from the tropics northward at the ocean surface and cold water southward at the ocean bottom, which is most relevant for the relatively mild temperatures in Europe. Further, it influences weather systems worldwide. A potential collapse of this ocean current system could therefore have severe consequences.
Read More
News

Leibniz institutions launch initiative “Integrated Earth System Research"

07/09/2021 - Scientists from a wide range of disciplines from Leibniz Association institutions are launching an initiative for “Integrated Earth System Research”. Together with partners from Germany, Europe and other countries, they will investigate the current epoch of the Earth’s history, which is strongly influenced by humans, in a coordinated and interdisciplinary way as never before. The findings will point out both high-risk and safe development paths for politics, business and civil society.
Read More
News

Fast & comprehensive: First version of Potsdam Earth Model POEM ready for use

7/01/2021 - A first version of the Potsdam Earth Model POEM is up and running. Unlike classic global climate models, POEM – developed by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) – is a fast and versatile earth system model that allows to capture a variety of important biospheric processes. In a first application of the POEM framework, the PIK scientists examined the possible tipping point of the Amazon forest under severe climate change.
Read More
News

Asteroid impact in Earth’s past caused brief bloom of algae and substantial ocean species’ extinction

06/17/2021 - The asteroid that likely caused dinosaur extinction 66 million years ago triggered strong global cooling and a massive bloom of algae, causing mass extinction also in marine ecosystems. This is the result of a new study from scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The researchers simulated the ocean productivity before and after the asteroid impact – and found a brief global algal bloom peaking at a productivity seven times higher than in the pre-impact ocean. Since the algae likely produced toxins, their increase could have contributed to the extinction of species in the ocean.
Read More
Press Release

Tipping elements can destabilize each other, leading to climate domino effects

06/03/2021 - Under global warming, tipping elements in the Earth system can destabilize each other and eventually lead to climate domino effects. The ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica are potential starting points for tipping cascades, a novel network analysis reveals. The Atlantic overturning circulation would then act as a transmitter, and eventually elements like the Amazon rainforest would be impacted. The consequences for people would reach from sea-level rise to biosphere degradation. Interactions in the network can lower the critical temperature thresholds beyond which individual tipping elements begin destabilizing on the long-run, according to the study – the risk already increases significantly for warming of 1.5°C to 2°C, hence within the temperature range of the Paris Agreement.
Read More
News

FirEUrisk: PIK joins EU project to analyze and manage wildfires

06/03/2021 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), along with 38 partner institutions from 19 countries, will develop a science-based strategy to manage, monitor and analyze major forest fires in Europe. Funded by the European Union, the FirEUrisk project brings together researchers, practitioners, policymakers and citizens to study the vulnerability and resilience of communities and countries to wildfires in Northern, Central and Mediterranean Europe. The overarching goal of the project is to adapt fire management strategies to expected climate and socio-economic changes.
Read More
News

Melting ice: Limiting global warming to 1.5°C could reduce sea level rise by 50 percent

05/05/2021 - If efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels are successful, the overall sea level rise caused by melting of ice would be effectively halved. This is the central finding of a new study by an international team of researchers – including Ronja Reese, Ricarda Winkelmann, Torsten Albrecht and Reinhard Calov from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research – which examines the land ice contribution to sea levels in the 21st century arising from the world’s glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
Read More
News

Girls' Day gives schoolgirls from all over Germany an insight into climate impact research

04/22/2021 – On Girls' Day - 'Future Prospects for Girls' this year, schoolgirls were once again given an insight into the work at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to discover career prospects in science. Due to the pandemic, this year's Girls' Day took place digitally, allowing for the first time girls from all over Germany to get to know PIK instead of usually just girls from Potsdam and Berlin. Climate researchers Ronja Reese and Constanze Werner talked about their work and answered everything the girls wanted to know in an open question session.
Read More
News

Online European Geosciences Union 2021 with strong PIK participation

04/21/2021 - One of the largest scientific meetings worldwide, the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly, virtually brings together geoscientists from all over the planet – amongst them many scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). From 19 to 30 April 2021, the EGU covers all disciplines of the Earth, planetary and space sciences and provides a forum where scientists, especially early-career researchers, can present their work and discuss their ideas with experts in all fields of geoscience.
Read More