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.
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More CO2 than ever before in 3 million years, shows unprecedented computer simulation

03/04/2019 - CO2 greenhouse gas amounts in the atmosphere are likely higher today than ever before in the past 3 million years. For the first time, a team of scientists succeeded to do a computer simulation that fits ocean floor sediment data of climate evolution over this period of time. Ice age onset, hence the start of the glacial cycles from cold to warm and back, the study reveals, was mainly triggered by a decrease of CO2-levels. Yet today, it is the increase of greenhouse gases due to the burning of fossil fuels that is fundamentally changing our planet, the analysis further confirms. Global mean temperatures never exceeded the preindustrial levels by more than 2 degrees Celsius in the past 3 million years, the study shows – while current climate policy inaction, if continued, would exceed the 2 degrees limit already in the next 50 years.
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What can Earth‘s past tell us about future global warming?

11/09/2016 - A new analysis of more than 700,000 years climate history shows that with ongoing greenhouse gas emissions our planet might warm even more than previously predicted. In the past, Earth’s temperatures varied strongly, driven by a variety of factors including CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. This provides valuable information for assessing the climate effect of modern times’ burning of fossil fuels. A study now published in Science Advances indicates that human-caused warming might even exceed earlier projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This would mean that we can emit even less CO2 to meet the temperature target of the Paris Agreement: keep warming below 2 degrees.
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Human-made climate change suppresses the next ice age

01/13/2016 - Humanity has become a geological force that is able to suppress the beginning of the next ice age, a study now published in the renowned scientific journal Nature shows. Cracking the code of glacial inception, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found the relation of insolation and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to be the key criterion to explain the last eight glacial cycles in Earth history. At the same time their results illustrate that even moderate human interference with the planet’s natural carbon balance might postpone the next glacial inception by 100.000 years.
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First Potsdam Summer School to focus on Arctic climate change

06/13/2014 - "Arctic in the Anthropocene" – the present geological era which has been dominated by humankind – will be the main focus of the Potsdam Summer School. During the two-week program, 40 selected young international scientists and experts will exchange ideas on a wide range of issues, including the melting of Greenland’s ice sheets and marine biology. In northern regions of the world, the effects of climate change have already become quite apparent. In collaboration with the Alfred Wegner Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the University of Potsdam, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) will be organizing the event, which will be held from June 23 to July 4, 2014, and is likely to be continued on an annual basis in the future.
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Uncorking East Antarctica yields unstoppable sea-level rise

05/05/2014 - The melting of a rather small ice volume on East Antarctica’s shore could trigger a persistent ice discharge into the ocean, resulting in unstoppable sea-level rise for thousands of years to come. This is shown in a study now published in Nature Climate Change by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The findings are based on computer simulations of the Antarctic ice flow using improved data of the ground profile underneath the ice sheet.
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Headlines and more on the IPCC’s new report

10/15/2013 - „Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia“ – this is the first of 18 headline statements provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC with the recently published first part of its new Assessment Report (AR5). The media covered the reports’s release widely, asking lead authors and eminent experts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for their comments.
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Greenland ice sheet may melt completely with 1.6 degrees global warming

03/11/2012 - The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be more vulnerable to global warming than previously thought. The temperature threshold for melting the ice sheet completely is in the range of 0.8 to 3.2 degrees Celsius global warming, with a best estimate of 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels, shows a new study by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Today, already 0.8 degrees global warming has been observed. Substantial melting of land ice could contribute to long-term sea-level rise of several meters and therefore it potentially affects the lives of many millions of people.
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Researchers refine assessment of tipping elements of the climate system

06/23/2011 - The West Antarctic ice sheet is a potential tipping element of the climate system that might have partially tipped already. According to a study now published in Climatic Change, experts can not rule out that ice masses in the Amundsen Sea sector of Antarctica have already begun to destabilize. This is one of the results of a new assessment of the current state of six potentially unstable regions in the climate system with large direct impacts on Europe. The likelihood of climatic transitions of these elements generally increases as global mean temperature increases due to greenhouse gases emitted by human activity.
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„Pioneering contributions to the development of Earth system models“: EGU awards

04/07/2011 - For his role in helping to understand mechanisms of glacial climate change, Andrey Ganopolski of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has been honoured by the European Geosciences Union (EGU). He was awarded the Milutin Milankovic Medal in Vienna this week “for his pioneering contributions to the development of Earth system models of intermediate complexity”, the EGU stated. These models – systems of mathematical equations representing processes in the atmosphere, oceans and other planetary compartments – show high computational efficiency. They allow scientists to perform more and longer projections, in contrast to state-of-the-art Earth system models. For the first time, Ganopolski and his collaborators made it possible to realistically simulate and explain some important aspects of transitions between glacial and interglacial periods – providing important insights which also help to assess anthropogenic global warming.
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Earth System Models of high computational efficiency

01/20/2011 - Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity have been at the center of a workshop in Potsdam this week. Participants from ten countries discussed the future of these models and their contribution to the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In contrast to state of the art Earth System Models, those with intermediate complexity show high computational efficiency, or relatively low cost. “For this reason we can perfom with these models more and longer future projections”, Andrey Ganopolski from the Potsdam Institut für Climate Impact Research (PIK) says.
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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change appoints authors for fifth Assessment Report

06/24/2010 - 831 scientists will contribute to the fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be published between June 2013 and March 2014. On Wednesday, the IPCC Secretariat in Geneva released the list of experts who will work towards delivering the three Working Groups’ reports. Seven scientists working at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have been named.
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The nature of past Antarctic temperature lead over carbon dioxide is clarified

11/11/2009 - The analysis of past changes of Antarctic temperature and the concentration of greenhouse gases alone cannot reveal causal relationships in the climate system. A recent modeling study shows that several climate processes need to be taken into account to discern causes and consequences. In the journal “Quaternary Science Reviews” researchers provide an explanation for observed Antarctic temperature lead over carbon dioxide concentration for several recent glacial-interglacial transitions.
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