News

12 PIK Researchers Among Most-Cited Scientists Worldwide

11/16/2021 - For the fourth year in a row, researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are among the top 1 percent of the most scientifically influential authors worldwide. The influential "Highly Cited" ranking is published once a year by Clarivate Analytics' science platform Web of Science. The ranking is based on the frequency with which researchers are cited in other works - one of the most important indicators of scientific relevance. Twelve PIK researchers are listed, including the institute's directors, confirming the success of the previous year.
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Dissertation on the implications of large-scale irrigated bioenergy plantations for future water use and water stress

On September 14th, TESS member Fabian Stenzel successfully defended his dissertation on the implications of large-scale irrigated bioenergy plantations for future water use and water stress.
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News

PIK expertise on extreme rainfall and flooding

07/16/2021 - The heavy rains and thunderstorms in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate during the past days have led to massive flooding of villages and entire areas. Meanwhile, towards the rivers Oder and Neiße, extreme heat prevailed at more than 30 degrees Celsius. Where these extraordinary weather conditions stem from and their connection with climate change, many national and international media wanted to know from PIK researchers. Here is a small excerpt from the coverage.
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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.
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News

“World’s top climate scientists”: many PIK researchers feature prominently in Reuters ranking

04/27/2021 - According to a new list published by Reuters, 8 of the top 10 German climate researchers are based at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The “hot list”, compiled in cooperation with the British-based technology company Digital Sciences, is a combination of three rankings detailing the number of research papers scientists have published on topics related to climate change, the field citation ratio to measure the influence of scientists’ work among their peers, and the attention the scholars and their research have garnered in the media. While the methodology is not perfect, depending on specific key words, it certainly is interesting.
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Press Release

Limiting water stress risks: irrigation management key for bioenergy production to mitigate climate change

03/08/2021 - To avoid a substantial increase in water scarcity, biomass plantations for energy production need sustainable water management, a new study shows. Bioenergy is frequently considered one of the options to reduce greenhouse gases for achieving the Paris climate goals, especially if combined with capturing the CO2 from biomass power plants and storing it underground. Yet growing large-scale bioenergy plantations worldwide does not just require land, but also considerable amounts of freshwater for irrigation – which can be at odds with respecting Earth’s Planetary Boundaries. Scientists now calculated in their to date most detailed computer simulations how much additional water stress could result for people worldwide in a scenario of conventional irrigation and one of sustainable freshwater use.
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News

“Planetary Boundary Simulator”: New initiative aims to quantify the interactions between key components of the Earth system

02/08/2021 - To gather further insight into the processes that determine Earth's resilience against unprecedented change, the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has launched a new pilot project: The Potsdam Earth Model Planetary Boundaries Simulator (POEM-PBSim) will for the first time analyze the impacts of the interaction of planetary boundaries in the Earth System – and simulate the changes it is undergoing.
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News

Climate change projected to double the number of people facing extreme drought

01/11/2021 - If current rates of global warming continue, up to 8 percent of the world's population – twice as many people as today – could be threatened by extreme droughts by the end of the 21st century. This is the key finding of a comprehensive study by an international team of scientists, including Jacob Schewe, Anne Gädecke, and Dieter Gerten from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Without effective climate change mitigation and resource maintenance, the authors argue, global water shortages could have disastrous ramifications.
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News

Special Issue in Climatic Change: PIK Scientists Refine Hydrological Model Evaluation Methods

01/05/2021 - Tools to project the availability of freshwater are becoming ever more important under climate change and growing population. Yet mathematical hydrological models, while being valuable instruments for impact assessment, may contribute to uncertainties, especially if not properly evaluated.
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Focus on food to address climate change

18/02/2020 - Bringing together agricultural production, supply chains, and consumption: In a comment published in the new journal Nature Food researchers discuss a new global food system approach to climate change research. When these activities are considered together, they represent 21 to 37 percent of total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, the authors note. This new approach also enables a fuller assessment of the vulnerability of the global food system to increasing droughts, intensifying heatwaves, heavier downpours, and exacerbated coastal flooding. Food system responses thus play a major role in both adapting to and mitigating climate change, the authors assert.
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Feeding the world without wrecking the planet is possible

20/01/2020 - Almost half of current food production is harmful to our planet – causing biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and water stress. But as world population continues to grow, can that last? A study led by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now suggests a comprehensive solution package for feeding 10 billion people within our planet’s environmental boundaries. Supplying a sufficient and healthy diet for every person whilst keeping our biosphere largely intact will require no less than a technological and socio-cultural U-turn. It includes adopting radically different ways of farming, reduction of food waste, and dietary changes. The study's publication coincides with the World Economic Forum in Davos and the International Green Week in Berlin, the world's biggest food and agriculture fair.
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Planetary boundaries: Interactions in the Earth system amplify human impacts

16/12/2019 - What we do to one part of our Earth system does not just add to what we do to other parts – transgressing one planetary boundary can amplify human impacts on another one. For the first time, an international team of scientists now quantified some of the planetary-scale interactions in the Earth system. These biophysical interactions have in fact almost doubled direct human impacts on the nine planetary boundaries, from climate change to freshwater use. This insight can now be applied in policy design for safeguarding the livelihoods of generations to come.
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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.
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Make climate impact models fit for extreme events, says study

01/03/2019 - Computer models used for assessing future global climate change risks are doing a good job when it comes to gradual changes, but they may be underestimating the severity of extreme events, finds an international team of scientists led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. They compared, for the first time, a large number of different simulations across sectors with the measured impacts of the 2003 European heat wave. In reality, the heat wave and drought in 2003 hit agriculture and ecosystems hard, and caused thousands of excess fatalities. These extreme impacts were not captured by most of the simulations. This means that there is an urgent need to develop models that better represent impacts from climate extremes. It also means that unmitigated global warming might be more costly and stabilizing our climate hence economically more rewarding than so far estimated.
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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.
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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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Better farm water management can help to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

07/20/2017 - Water use for food production today largely occurs on the expense of ecosystems. About 40 percent of the water used for irrigation are unsustainable withdrawals that violate so-called environmental flows of rivers, a new study shows for the first time. If these volumes were to be re-allocated to the ecosystems, crop yields would drop by at least 10 percent on half of all irrigated land, especially in Central and South Asia. This points to a tradeoff between water and food UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, improvement of irrigation practices could sustainably compensate for such losses at global scale. More integrated strategies, including rainwater management, could even achieve a 10 percent net gain of production.
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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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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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Water Future: PIK chairs new working group on groundwater management

23/12/2016 - Groundwater has contributed greatly to increasing food security by ensuring water availability for irrigation at critical times. Today, 43 percent of global food production depends on groundwater use. However, water reserves are not endless, and climate change puts additional pressure on groundwater management. A new transdisciplinary and international research group on Water Management in the Future Earth Framework will address these challenges, co-chaired by Anne Biewald of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). As part of the Sustainable Water Future Programme, several research groups will bring together the best international expertise to drive solutions to the world’s water problems.
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Better water management could halve the global food gap

02/16/2016 - Improved agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate change effects on crop yields. For the first time, scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation. They found the potential has previously been underestimated. Investing in crop water management could substantially reduce hunger while at the same time making up for population growth. However, putting the findings into practice would require specific local solutions, which remains a challenge.
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Future Earth Summit in Berlin

02/01/2016 - Researchers from the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences and engineering came together in Berlin last week with stakeholders from policy, business and civil society at the “Future Earth Summit”. The second major conference of German sustainability research focused on topics like Earth system modeling and social macrodynamics or science and society and discussed international sustainability science in the light of the Paris agreement and other recent developments.
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Yearbook Ecology on global environment policy

09/01/2015 - From planetary boundaries to the impacts of a four-degree world to COP21 in Paris: experts take stock of international environment policies in the recently published Yearbook Ecology entitled: “Wanted: a global environment policy”. Among the authors are Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and other specialists from PIK.
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Four of nine planetary boundaries now crossed

01/16/2015 - Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity, says an international team of 18 researchers in the journal Science. The four are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles. The scientists say that two of these, climate change and biosphere integrity, are “core boundaries” – significantly altering either of these would “drive the Earth System into a new state”. The team will present their findings in seven seminars at the World Economic Forum in Davos (21-25 January).
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Ethics and economics: study on values in simulations

12/05/2014 - Computer simulations of the impacts of global trade policy, for example, generally contain ethical value assumptions. In order to make these assumptions more transparent, and to enhance our understanding of possible trade-offs, scientists have developed a novel methodological approach and applied it to agro-economic modelling of global water scarcity. Their newly released study, the result of an unusual collaboration between economists, scientists and philosophers, contends that the incorporation of value assumptions in scientific scenarios can improve the usability of those scenarios for decision-makers in politics and business.
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Climate change puts forty percent more people at risk of absolute water scarcity: study

12/16/2013 - Water scarcity impacts people’s lives in many countries already today. Future population growth will increase the demand for freshwater even further. Yet in addition to this, on the supply side, water resources will be affected by projected changes in rainfall and evaporation. Climate change due to unabated greenhouse-gas emissions within our century is likely to put 40 percent more people at risk of absolute water scarcity than would be without climate change, a new study shows by using an unprecedented number of impact models. The analysis is to be published in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that assembles first results of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), a unique community-driven effort to bring research on climate change impacts to a new level.
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More than 500 million people might face increasing water scarcity

10/08/2013 - Both freshwater availability for many millions of people and the stability of ecosystems such as the Siberian tundra or Indian grasslands are put at risk by climate change. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, 500 million people could be subject to increased water scarcity – while this number would grow by a further 50 percent if greenhouse-gas emissions are not cut soon. At 5 degrees global warming almost all ice-free land might be affected by ecosystem change. This is shown by complementary studies now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Carbon Dioxide Removal: Assessing potentials - and risks

06/24/2013 - With global greenhouse-gas emissions continuing to rise and a possibility that international cooperation in climate policy will continue to be delayed, a number of large-scale technical approaches have been suggested to counter strong climate change. Direct carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere is a measure that two groups of scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK) are now looking into. Theoretically, it could make ambitious mitigation economically more feasible, increase the likelihood of achieving the 2-degrees warming threshold agreed by the international community, or lower atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the future to partially compensate for lack of mitigation today. The PIK projects are part of a programme financed by Deutsche Forschungs-Gemeinschaft on climate engineering that is starting this month.
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Permafrost soil thawing accelerates climate change despite more abundant vegetation

2013/03/13 - Global warming affects permafrost soils, for instance in Siberia, in two opposing ways. Their thawing accelerates decomposition processes in the soil, leading to higher CO2 emissions. On the other hand, enhanced vegetation growth due to higher temperatures leads to carbon intake by the plants, and consequently storage in the soil. However, the – often neglected – second effect in the long run cannot counter the first one, reveals a study now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
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