Climate Research in Potsdam approaches European Dimensions

Potsdam, 25 Sept. 2002

To meet the challenges of modern environmental research, a higher degree of cooperation between European research institutes is demanded by many. As a step in this direction, the founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber, has been granted a leave of absence, during which he will serve as scientific director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research as of 1 October 2002. The Tyndall Centre was established, in 2000, after the blueprint of PIK, and is already now the most important UK institution in the area of integrated climate research. While at Tyndall, Prof. Schellnhuber will pursue an efficient networking of European climate research, based on the two institute's cooperation, as a primary goal.

The development of European research competence concerning climate change has, after the success of European support of the Kyoto Protocol against international resistance, become more important than ever. PIK's role is illustrated by a number of collaborative research projects that are all co-ordinated there, e.g. on the vulnerability of European ecosystems to climate change, on the protection of coastal areas worldwide to sea-level rise, on possible competitive advantages in developing new energy technologies, and on obstacles and opportunities of sustainable development in European cities.

In addition to these, mostly EU-funded, research projects, a successful integration of scientific activities requires direct connections between institutes, particularly including those in candidate states for EU membership. As a step in this direction, one leading scientist in the area of flood hazard research, Prof. Zbigniew Kundzewicz, now holds a combined post at PIK and the Polish Academy of Sciences (Poznan) and coordinates flood disaster research in river systems such as the Elbe and Odra river. PIK also plays a leading role in the development of the European Climate Forum - ECF. This is a network of research institutes, such as PIK and Tyndall, large companies, such as Alsthom Power and ABB, and NGOs, such as Greenpeace and WWF, all jointly pursuing research in the area of climate change.

The leave of absence of Prof. Schellnhuber marks the opportunity for a higher level of cooperation in European science. During the coming year, the PIK director will be Prof. Dr. Martin Claussen. Prof. Claussen considers his goal to, "lead PIK from its pioneering phase in integrated climate research to a phase of broad research competence, characterised by cooperative leadership and the capacity to include socio-economic aspects of the climate problem". The institute sees itself, as part of a European network, in an excellent position to pursue these goals.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Martin Claussen, phone: +49-331-288-2522, E-mail:
Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, phone: +49-331-288-2502, E-mail:

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