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?”
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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.
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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.
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Sea-level legacy: 20cm more rise by 2300 for each 5-year delay in peaking emissions

02/20/2018 - Peaking global CO2 emissions as soon as possible is crucial for limiting the risks of sea-level rise, even if global warming is limited to well below 2°C. A study now published in the journal Nature Communications analyzes for the first time the sea-level legacy until 2300 within the constraints of the Paris Agreement. Their central projections indicate global sea-level rise between 0.7m and 1.2m until 2300 with Paris put fully into practice. As emissions in the second half of this century are already outlined by the Paris goals, the variations in greenhouse-gas emissions before 2050 will be the major leverage for future sea levels. The researchers find that each five year delay in peaking global CO2 emissions will likely increase median sea-level rise estimates for 2300 by 20 centimeters.
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EU commissioner Stylianides visits PIK

01/24/2018 - The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) together with Director-General Monique Pariat and members of cabinet. He was interested in the latest climate research and particularly in prevention measures for the increasing risks of floods and forest fires due to climate change.
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FAZ-Blog: PIK climate scientists on expedition to the Antarctic

01/23/2017 - The researchers Ricarda Winkelmann and Ronja Reese from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) recently departed for their expedition to Antarctica with the research vessel "Polarstern" of the Alfred Wegener Institute. Over the next few weeks, they will report regularly on their expedition, ice and climate change in a blog on FAZ.net. Usually, the two mathematicians at PIK work with numerical models and computer simulations. In the next few weeks, however, they will be collecting data on the Antarctic sea ice to learn more about the sensitivity of the gigantic ice masses of the ice continent.
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Biomass plantations not compatible with planetary boundaries

01/22/2018 - Planting trees or grasses on a grand scale in plantations to extract CO2 from the atmosphere - this could make a long-term contribution to climate protection, but it would push the planet beyond ecological limits in other dimensions. A new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in the journal Nature Climate Change now for the first time establishes a connection between ambitious international climate objectives and the more comprehensive concept of planetary boundaries. If biomass plantations in which plants bind carbon dioxide during growth are massively expanded, this would entail enormous risks for areas that are already stressed, such as biodiversity, biogeochemical flows, water resources and land use. According to the study, biomass as a means to capture and store CO2 can therefore only make a limited contribution. In order to stabilize the climate, a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of coal, oil and gas is crucial.
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PIK scientists at the Chaos Communication Congress 34C3

29/12/2017 - For four days between Christmas and New Year´s, thousands of hackers, experts and artists meet every year to exchange news and views and learn about new technological developments and tools. The 34th Chaos Communication Congress (34C3) takes place in Leipzig this year, the organizers expect more than 13.000 participants. Science is represented as well, this year also by experts of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) - climate change is one of this year´s main themes.
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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.
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Environment Council SRU: steering the transport sector in a new direction

23.11.2017 - The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) issued a special report promoting a quota for electric cars. At least 25 percent of all new cars and light commercial vehicles should be equipped with an electric drive by 2025. With regard to the additional electricity demand by the transport sector, an accelerated expansion of renewable energies is necessary according to the report. Moreover, during the new legislative period the end of the diesel privilege should be initiated. The report also makes proposals for the further development of route-dependent car and truck toll systems. The transport sector is currently responsible for about one-fifth of Germany's greenhouse gas emissions.
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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.
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“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.
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Formation of coal almost turned our planet into a snowball

2017/10/10 - While burning coal today causes Earth to overheat, about 300 million years ago the formation of that same coal brought our planet close to global glaciation. For the first time, scientists show the massive effect in a study published in the renowned Proceedings of the US Academy of Sciences. When trees in vast forests died during a time called the Carboniferous and the Permian, the carbon dioxide (CO2) they took up from the atmosphere while growing got buried; the plants’ debris over time formed most of the coal that today is used as fossil fuel. Consequently, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere sank drastically and Earth cooled down to a degree it narrowly escaped what scientists call a ‘snowball state’.
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Turning the Climate Tide by 2020

06/28/2017 - The world needs high-speed climate action for an immediate bending-down of the global greenhouse-gas emissions curve, leading experts caution. Aggressive reduction of fossil-fuel usage is the key to averting devastating heat extremes and unmanageable sea level rise, the authors argue in a comment published in the renowned scientific journal Nature this week. In the run-up to the G20 summit of the planet’s leading economies, the article sets six milestones for a clean industrial revolution. This call for strong short-term measures complements the longer-term 'carbon law' approach introduced earlier this year by some of the current co-authors, including the Potsdam Institute’s Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, in the equally eminent journal Science. Thus a full narrative of deep decarbonization emerges.
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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.
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Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex weakening

09/22/2017 - When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe. It is the first to show that changes in winds high up in the stratosphere substantially contributed to the observed winter cooling trend in northern Eurasia. While it is still a subject of research how the Arctic under climate change impacts the rest of the world, this study lends further support that a changing Arctic impacts the weather across large swaths of the Northern Hemisphere population centers.
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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.
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Storm Harvey: impacts likely worsened due to global warming

08/28/2017 - Tropical storm "Harvey" is causing severe flooding in Texas. Because many people are asking if there is a link to climate change, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research issued a statement by its Earth System Analysis Co-Chair Stefan Rahmstorf. "Harvey" was not caused by climate change, he says. Yet its impacts – the storm surge, and especially the extreme rainfall – very likely worsened due to human-caused global warming.
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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.
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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.
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"This decision marks the end of the American century" - PIK and the Trump effect

06/09/2017 - Last week US President Donald Trump has announced that he will leave the Paris climate agreement. This step not only triggered a wave of indignation around the world, but also led to a media rush on the scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. They were able to assess the decision and the importance of the Paris agreement for climate protection.
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Climate stabilization: Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions

05/18/2017 - Growing plants and then storing the CO2 they have taken up from the atmosphere is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions from fossil fuel burning, a new study shows. The plantations would need to be so large, they would eliminate most natural ecosystems or reduce food production if implemented as a late-regret option in the case of substantial failure to reduce emissions. However, growing biomass soon in well-selected places with increased irrigation or fertilization could support climate policies of rapid and strong emission cuts to achieve climate stabilization below 2 degrees Celsius.
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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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EGU Early Career Award for Ricarda Winkelmann

04/27/2017 - Ricarda Winkelmann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was honored with the Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award by the European Geosciences Union. She received the award in the Division Cryosphere “for her innovative contributions to glaciology and the study of the interactions between climate and glaciation”. Winkelmann is Junior Professor of Climate System Analysis at Potsdam University and scientist at PIK's research domain Earth System Analysis.
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Global warming trend with ups and downs, but without slowdown or speed-up

04/25/2017 - Temperatures worldwide are increasing due to greenhouse-gases from fossil fuels. Past claims of a noteworthy ‘slowdown’ of the global warming trend are proven wrong by statistical analysis, a new study shows. Researchers from Germany and the US examined global-mean surface temperature trends, in the light of the three record breaking years 2014-2015-2016 in most datasets. While there of course is some natural short-term variability, the study finds no significant slowdown let alone ‘pause’ in the upward trend.
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Making the Planetary Boundaries Concept Work: Conference in Berlin

04/24/2017 - More than 400 researchers and representatives from politics, businesses and society will discuss the concept of Planetary Boundaries this week in Berlin. Environmental pressures are rapidly increasing worldwide, with mounting risks for sustainable development. To allow future generations to live in dignity and peace, humanity needs to operate within a safe operating space delineated by the Planetary Boundaries. Keynote speakers include German Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, Heinrich Bottermann, General Secretary of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
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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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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 disasters increase risk of armed conflict in multi-ethnic countries

07/26/2016 - Climate disasters like heat-waves or droughts enhance the risk of armed conflicts in countries with high ethnic diversity, scientists found. They used a novel statistical approach to analyze data from the past three decades. While each conflict is certainly the result of a complex and specific mix of factors, it turns out that the outbreak of violence in ethnically fractionalized countries is often linked to natural disasters that may fuel smoldering social tensions. This finding, to be published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, can help in the design of security policies – even more so since future global warming from human-made greenhouse-gas emissions will increase natural disasters and therefore likely also risks of conflicts and migration.
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