Thawing Tundra, endangered crops - new books by PIK-scientists

10/26/2011 - How can climate types be categorized to comprehend climate changes ore precisely? How can crops adapt to a changing climate? And where to find comprehensive analyses and questions on ecological, political and economic aspects of climate change in one volume? Several contributions to books of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) recently published give some answers.
Thawing Tundra, endangered crops - new books by PIK-scientists

PIK-scientists have now developed a climate classification that captures the complexity of our climate. When talking about climate change, one usually thinks of global warming. But besides from temperature, important meteorological factors are rainfall, vegetation, and geographical situation. The newly developed classification enabled scientists to calculate changes in size and location of climate zones within the past 15 years in comparison to 100 years earlier. Significant changes were discovered on all continents. According to Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, who wrote the chapter “Recent Global Warming Induced Climate Changes” in the recently published volume “Planet Earth 2011 – Global Warming Challenges and Opportunities for Policy and Practice” together with Peter C. Werner and other PIK-colleagues, 350 square kilometers of ice climates (i.e. Tundra) disappear daily. They thaw, whereas deserts spread approximately 150 square kilometers a day. Similar drastic changes can be witnessed for other climate types as well.

Agriculture is affected by climate change but also responsible for approximately one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. PIK-scientist Hermann Lotze-Campen and a team of international experts have examined possible consequences of climate changes for global food production and how to cope with them. “Crop Adaptation to Climate Change” contains several studies about several agricultural plants such as beans, potatoes, or cassava, which feed a majority of the world population. Some studies of the volume are devoted to the impact of climate change in specific regions and analyze how crops react to changing rainfall patterns, to a higher CO2-concentration, or to dryer soil. In developing countries, 70% of the population live directly of agriculture, but especially these regions are among the most affected by a changing climate. Another part of the book therefore deals with adaptation strategies, for example how plants could get bred to be more robust.

A thorough summary of causes and consequences of climate change as well as possible solutions and coping methods is provided in “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions”. An international team of authors, including PIK-director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and other PIK-scientists, assembled today’s state of the art research results. Besides questions of geological science and ecology, economic and political issues and strategies are addressed, as well as social and philosophical aspects.


Planet Earth 2011 – Global Warming Challenges and Opportunities for Policy and Practice, Hrsg.: Elias G. Carayannis, Intech Open Access Publisher, Rijeka, 2011 (ISBN 978-953-307-733-8)

Crop Adaptation to Climate Change, Shyam Singh Yadav, Robert Redden, Jerry L. Hatfield, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Anthony Hall; Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford 2011 (ISBN: 978-0-8138-2016-3)

Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions, Katherine Richardson, Will Steffen, Diana Liverman; Cambridge University Press 2011 (ISBN: 9780521198363)