Emissions cut of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 needed for industrial countries for 2°C limit
12/15/2009 - Authors of the landmark 2009 climate report “The Copenhagen Diagnosis” estimate that by 2020 industrial nations must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by around 40% below 1990 levels to secure a decent chance of avoiding dangerous human interference with the climate system.
Tipping Elements in the Earth System: How Stable is the Contemporary Environment?
12/08/2009 - A Special Feature of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” presents the latest scientific insights on so-called tipping elements in the planetary environment. These elements have been identified as the most vulnerable large-scale components of the Earth System that may be profoundly altered by human interference. If one or more of those components is tipped – especially in the course of global warming – then the age of remarkably stable environmental conditions on Earth throughout the Holocene may end quickly and irreversibly.
Intelligent transfer of information on climate protection and adaptation options - PIK and GTZ present climate information service
12/12/2009 - In the light of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) together with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) presented a preview of its climate service “ci:grasp” (Climate Impacts: Global and Regional Adaptation Support Platform) last thursday. “The central idea behind our platform is to develop a science-based tool to support decision making on adaptation to climate impacts at the regional level,” says Jürgen Kropp, Head of the North-South research group at PIK, which is developing the ci:grasp platform. The methodological approach guarantees higher efficiency of financial investments into adaptation measures as they can be focused and their effects be maximized.
The odds of tipping
03/17/2009 - According to the estimates of climate scientists in a newly published expert survey, there is more than a 50% chance of major changes in the global climate system if global warming proceeds at the current rate. Should average global temperature increase by more than 4 degrees Celsius, one or several parts of the climate system could tip to a new state. Experts’ estimates of the probability of tipping vary, and it also remains uncertain by how much global temperature will increase in the future. But – as the authors report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online early edition - these uncertainties do not imply that far-reaching events caused by global warming are unlikely.
Sea Level Rise could reach 1.9 Metres this century
12/07/2009 - A new scientific study warns that sea level could rise much faster than previously expected. By the year 2100, global sea level could rise between 75 and 190 centimetres, according to a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
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.
60 Nobel Laureates: Copenhagen must be a Turning Point towards Global Sustainability
11/10/2009 - 60 Nobel Laureates are calling on world leaders for a global deal on climate change that matches the scale and urgency of the human, ecological and economic crises facing the world today. Political leadership is now more necessary than ever. The call comes in a Memorandum signed by Laureates from across the disciplines, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Mikhail Gorbachev, his Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mohamed el-Baradei, chief of the IAEA, and winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature Doris Lessing, John Coetzee and Wole Soyinka.
Europe will profit from climate protection if it acts now
09/11/03 - RECIPE (Report on Energy and Climate Policy in Europe), a European study on the costs of climate protection, has demonstrated for the first time that: • Early action is the only way to avert dangerous consequences from climate change at manageable costs. • Europe will profit from a leadership role, even if other countries continue to hesitate • Distributing the costs of climate protection will not overburden any region of the world; transfers to emerging nations will keep overall costs down • Climate change can only be contained if measures take effect by 2020
Monsoon model indicates potential for abrupt transitions
10/19/2009 - A self-amplifying effect presently sustains monsoon winds, but it could also disrupt the circulation over land and sea. The periodical rainfall could stop from one season to another or for months within seasons. High air pollution could lead to the disruption, researchers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research report in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” Online Early Edition. Global warming increases the risk of abrupt monsoon transitions from high-precipitation to dry periods.
Harvest and save water to increase crop yields, say researchers
10/09/2009 - On-farm water management could increase global crop production by about one fifth, a modelling study by German and Swedish researchers indicates. However, even intensive water management on present cropland will not be sufficient to accommodate the food demands of a growing population in a warming world, the scientists report in the current edition of the “Environmental Research Letters”.
Planetary Boundaries: A Safe Operating Space for Humanity
09/23/09 - Global biophysical boundaries can define a ‘safe planetary operating space’ that will allow humanity to continue to develop and thrive for generations to come, a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists proposes. Drawing upon current scientific understanding of the Earth System, the scientists make a first attempt to identify and quantify a set of nine planetary boundaries. This new approach to sustainable development that is to help humanity to deal with climate change and other global environmental threats in the 21st century is conveyed in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature.
The dusk of the coal paradigm - study discloses investment risks for German electricity utilities
09/08/2009 - Ambitious climate policy and high CO2 prices result in advantages for the four major energy providers in Germany in many cases. This is the finding of the study "German power utilities - caught in the CO2 trap?" presented at a conference of the Society of Investment Professionals in Germany (DVFA) in Frankfurt today. The study is a collaborative project of the WestLB bank and the research project “Climate Mainstreaming” that investigates climate-related opportunities and risks in insurance, asset management and lending.
Tipping Elements remain ‘hot’ issue
08/24/2009 - The article “Tipping elements in the Earth’s climate system” has been named one of the most highly-cited in the field of Geosciences published during the past two years. The media corporation Thomson Reuters has identified the article that appeared in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” in February 2008 as a New Hot Paper.
Advanced mathematics in mother-child relationships
07/13/2009 - The hearts of pregnant women and their unborn children sometimes beat in synchrony. This interaction is significantly influenced by the mother’s breathing, researchers report in the current online edition of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. The mathematical approach to identify the synchronisation epochs could be applied to detect complications early in pregnancy. It could equally be used for the analysis of complex patterns in the climate system.
Copenhagen Climate Report: “Inaction is inexcusable”
06/18/2009 - Key climate indicators such as global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise and extreme climatic events are already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which contemporary society and economy have developed. This is one of the key messages of a report presented by leading scientists in Brussels today in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. The up-to-date overview of research relevant to climate change was handed over to the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the host of the conference.
“Climate Change means Cultural Change”
06/09/2009 – The foreseeable consequences of dangerous climate change call for combined global efforts for climate protection – efforts that require great social, political and cultural changes. These aspects of climate protection will be discussed for the first time between scientists of various disciplines and international experts from the worlds of politics and business. The conference from June 8-10 in Essen (Germany) aims to consolidate the social debate on climate change and provide new incentives for scientific policy advice in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The conference is hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI) and Stiftung Mercator, in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
Nobel Laureates call for a global deal on climate change
05/28/2009 - The participants of the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium agreed on a Memorandum, which urges “governments at all levels, as well as the scientific community, to join with business and civil society to seize hold of this historic opportunity to transform our carbon-intensive economies into sustainable and equitable systems.” For three days more than twenty Nobel Laureates have debated the dimensions of climate change and the current global sustainability crisis with some of the world’s leading climate scientists, politicians and business leaders. The participants also discussed strategies to meet these challenges. With the symposium’s patron, The Prince of Wales, present, the St James’s Palace Memorandum was signed in London today. The US secretary of energy and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu was one of the keynote speakers at the symposium.
Start of second Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability in London
From 26 to 28 May 2009, Nobel Laureates from a variety of disciplines, leading scientists and experts will discuss the environmental, economic and development challenges related to climate change. Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate in physics and United States Secretary of Energy is one of the participants. The Symposium on sustainability is the second in a series initiated in 2007 by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). This year’s Symposium is held under the auspices of HRH The Prince of Wales.
Better water use could reduce future food crises
05/05/2009 - If the overall water resources in river basins were acknowledged and managed better, future food crises could be significantly reduced, say researchers from Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, Stockholm Environment Institute and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
On the way to phasing out emissions: More than 50% reductions needed by 2050 to respect 2°C climate target
04/30/2009 - Less than a quarter of the proven fossil fuel reserves can be burnt and emitted between now and 2050, if global warming is to be limited to two degrees Celsius (2°C), says a new study published in the journal Nature today (1).
Royal Visit at PIK
04/20/2009 - On Thursday, 30 April 2009, Prince Charles will visit the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The British heir apparent will visit the historical institute’s building on the Potsdam Telegraphenberg und attend a scientific workshop. Moreover, he will have preparatory discussions with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of PIK, about the second Nobel Laureates Symposium that will take place in London in May and is under the auspices of Prince Charles.
PIK presents report on Global Green Recovery to German Foreign Minister Steinmeier
03/26/2009 – Measures of G20 members for economic recovery can trigger a boost of both sustainable growth and climate protection. This is the result of a policy paper presented in Berlin today. The report was authored by a team led by Ottmar Edenhofer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The report was prepared on behalf of the German Foreign Office. According to the paper, a global green recovery could deliver immediate and long-term economic benefits, help to avoid dangerous climate change, and reduce sources of global instability such as energy insecurity and competition for natural resources. The report highlights key measures in seven strategic areas that G20 members can take to tackle the economic crisis and re-orient development towards sustainable, low-carbon growth.
Schellnhuber elected as new Chair of WBGU
02/27/2009 – The members of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) elected Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber as new chair und Dirk Messner as vice chair. The term of office is two years.
Risks of global warming have been underestimated
02/23/2009 – The risks of severe climate impacts increase drastically with only small increases in global mean temperature. An international team of researchers has reinvestigated the five “reasons for concern” described first in the Third Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001, and revised a graphic depiction of their sensitivities to increases in global mean temperature. The diagram shows clearly how the borderline to dangerous climate change could be crossed much earlier than previously thought but also that ambitioned climate policy could minimize the associated risks.
Climate Scientists make 'Copenhagen Diagnosis'
24/11/2009 - Climate change is accelerating beyond expectations, urgent emissions reductions required, say leading scientists.
Oceans short of breath
02/09/2009 - Oceanic acidification, as induced by anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, modifies the marine carbon pump and triggers extended marine “oxygen holes” at intermediate depths. The lack of oxygen could harm marine habitats as well as their services to humans.
Potsdam Scientists to Tackle New Type of Weather Simulations with IBM iDataPlex
01/21/2009 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is rolling out a new IBM supercomputer that will increase its computing capacity more than 30-fold. Potsdam researchers plan to employ IBM’s high-performance iDataPlex servers to more precisely predict weather events that have so far proven to be incalculable – extreme, short-term phenomena such as torrential rain or drought.
Towards order in the complex
01/13/2009 - Jürgen Kurths today holds his inaugural lecture at the faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the Humboldt University Berlin. The mathematician accepted the call to the professorship for Nonlinear Dynamics at the University’s Physics Institute in May 2008. Since June 2008 he also co-chairs the research domain Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). His research and teaching activities focus on the dynamics of complex networks. Kurths’ mathematical approach opens up new insights into the functionality of the Earth system.