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Ricarda Winkelmann departs on “Expedition Anthropocene“ on Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador

24/02/2020 – Humans are the defining geological force shaping Earth in our current epoch that has been named the Anthropocene. Across disciplinary boundaries, six members of the 'Junge Akademie', the academy of prominent young scientists and artists from German speaking backgrounds, have departed on an expedition on tracing some of human’s impact onto the environment. 200 years after Alexander von Humboldt, they will climb the Ecuadorian volcano Chimborazo in search of humanity’s footprint in different altitudes and vegetation zones. Besides PIK’s Ricarda Winkelmann, a mathematician glaciologist, the scientists involved come from a great variety of disciplinary backgrounds: biology, chemistry, sound ecology, computer science, and medicine.
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Bundesbank experts discuss climate risks for finance

13/02/2020 - Climate risks for finance were at the centre of a joint workshop at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) with experts from the German Bundesbank. Both the physical impacts of global warming, for instance weather extremes, and the economical impacts of transitioning to net zero CO2 emissions have huge implications. The experts and scientists discussed potential future collaborations, namely on data exchange and computer simulation modelling.
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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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Eurogroup Finance Ministers debate with Edenhofer

17/02/2020 - The Eurogroup Finance Ministers invited climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer to speak at their Brussels meeting this Monday. They expect him to “bring a fresh perspective” based on his “important contributions to the research and public debate on the economics of the climate transition”. Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, will talk about environmental taxation that could help both climate stabilization and social equity.
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The Antarctica Factor: model uncertainties reveal upcoming sea level risk

Sea level rise due to ice loss in Antarctica could become a major risk for coastal protection even in the near term, scientists say. Within this century already, due to Antarctica alone global sea level might rise up to three times as much as it did in the last century. This is a finding of an exceptionally comprehensive comparison of state-of-the-art computer models from around the world.
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2°C ocean warming has been enough to destabilize Antarctica in the past

12/02/2020 - A melting of the Antarctic ice sheets would have far-reaching consequences for sea-level rise and coastal regions around the world. Based on new data from the Antarctic ice, an international team of scientists now reveals how the ice sheet reacted to rising temperatures in the past. Published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their study using data from a blue ice field shows for the first time that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet already proved to be quite unstable during the last warm period 120,000 years ago. The Eemian warm period was the last phase of climate history with global temperatures similar to those that the world is heading towards due to manmade global warming in the coming decades.
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PIK again among the world's best climate think tanks

31/01/2020 - For 2019, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was again one of the most influential think tanks in the field of environmental policy. That is the result of this year's "Global Go To Think Tank Index Report" published by the University of Pennsylvania. The ranking includes more than 6,500 institutions worldwide.
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Edenhofer: Shutting down German power stations could have been achieved more cheaply

29.01.2020 - Today, about a year after the report of the so-called Commission, the German government passed the Kohleausstiegsgesetz (Coal Exit Law). Power generation from lignite and hard coal, accounting for 28 percent of gross electricity generation in 2019, shall be stopped by 2038. Lignite operators will receive 4.35 billion euros in compensation; further compensation to hard coal operators will be determined and distributed through auctions. In addition, coal regions will receive 40 billion euros in structural aid.
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Buildings can become a global CO2 sink if made out of wood instead of cement and steel

A material revolution replacing cement and steel in urban construction by wood can have double benefits for climate stabilization, a new study shows. First, it can avoid greenhouse gas emissions from cement and steel production. Second, it can turn buildings into a carbon sink as they store the CO2 taken up from the air by trees that are harvested and used as engineered timber. However while the required amount of timber harvest is available in theory, such an upscaling would clearly need most careful, sustainable forest management and governance, the international team of authors stresses.
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Climate costs smallest if warming is limited to 2°C

27/01/2020 - Climate costs are likely smallest if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius. The politically negotiated Paris Agreement is thus also the economically sensible one, Potsdam researchers find in a new study. Using computer simulations of a model by US Nobel Laureate William Nordhaus, they weight climate damages from, for instance, increasing weather extremes or decreasing labour productivity against the costs of cutting greenhouse gas emission by phasing out coal and oil. Interestingly, the economically most cost-efficient level of global warming turns out to be the one more than 190 nations signed as the Paris Climate Agreement. So far however, CO2 reductions promised by nations worldwide are insufficient to reach this goal.
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Rockström as one Voice of Science at Davos World Economic Forum

21/01/2020 – After a year of climate change making headlines, the global leaders’ meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, too, has climate change written in large letters on its programme. Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is one of the scientists present to make the voice of science heard.
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Tipping mechanisms could spark profound societal change towards climate stabilization: new study

21/01/2020 - Limiting global warming to well below 2°C requires a decarbonized world by 2050 at the latest and a corresponding global transformation of the energy and land use systems of societies across the world. To achieve this goal of net-zero carbon by 2050 emissions need to be cut by half every decade from now on. An interdisciplinary team of researchers now explored tipping mechanisms that have the potential to spark rapid yet constructive societal changes towards climate stabilization and overall sustainability. These tipping elements and mechanisms could bring about a transition that is fast enough for meeting the targets of the Paris climate agreement. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the scientists identify six socio-economic tipping elements and related interventions that could bring such a transition to a deep and rapid global decarbonization on its way.
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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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Climate change, food and agriculture: PIK expertise at International Green Week in Berlin

20/01/2020 - Hundreds of thousands of people are currently exploring the International Green Week in Berlin, a leading global trade fair for agriculture and food with featuring more than 1800 exhibitors from 72 countries. According to the organizers, the International Green Week 2020 is focusing on climate change like never before, with numerous exhibitions and events. This year's trend topics include sustainability, resource conservation and environmentally friendly production processes. Experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) will also be present at events at the Green Week from 17-26 January.
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Nature Magazine Editorial: Research decade must focus on climate

13/01/2020 - Helping to limit anthropogenic global warming should be a prime task of science in the 2020s. “The coming decade must focus on climate change”, states a recent editorial of the world-leading scientific journal Nature. The 2010s saw breakthroughs in artificial intelligence via deep-learning technologies, in life sciences through the reprogramming of mature cells into stem cells, in physics with gravitational-wave detection and progress on quantum computing. While this was remarkable, the editors proclaim that “with new knowledge, and a renewed dedication to social and environmental responsibility, the 2020s must be transformational”.
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Australian bush fires: "What is happening in the southeast of Australia right now is breaking all records"

10/01/2020 - Australia is burning. In a statement, Kirsten Thonicke, expert for fire ecology and forests at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), explains the causes and how the devastating fires are related to man-made climate change.
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Johan Rockström receives Honorary Doctorate of the University of Amsterdam

09.01.2020 - Johan Rockström received the honorary doctorate of the University of Amsterdam. Presented during the celebration of the the 388th birthday of the University of Amsterdam at the annual "Dies Natalis" event, the honorary doctorate was bestowed to Rockström for his pioneering scientific contributions in the area of global sustainability, and for his research into planetary boundaries in particular.
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New approach in El Niño forecasting potentially doubles the lead-time and helps forecasting its magnitude

06.01.2020 - El Niño, probably the most far-ranging climate phenomena on Earth, is likely to hit again in 2020, as groundbreaking research by PIK and others has shown. Now, PIK researchers also found a new way to improve forecasts regarding its magnitude using data from air and sea surface temperature series.
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PIK research among the top 20 most-discussed papers worldwide in 2019, according to Altmetric

17/12/2019 - The EAT Lancet report by PIK director Johan Rockström and others was published in January 2019 in the medical journal The Lancet. Lighting up paths to feeding a world population of 10 billion people while respecting our planet’s boundaries and our health has earned the paper an enormous amount of online attention and debate, ranking on place 18 of the 100 biggest science stories of 2019.
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Artificial Intelligence: applying ‚Deep Reinforcement Learning‘ for sustainable development

20/12/2019 - For the first time, a specific way of machine learning has been used to find novel pathways for sustainable development. So far, the so-called 'Deep Reinforcement Learning' has mostly been used to make computers excel in certain games, such as AlphaGo, or navigate robots through rough terrain. Now, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research developed a mathematical framework combining recently developed machine learning techniques with more classical analysis of trajectories in computer simulations of the global climate system and the global economy. The results, published in the interdisciplinary journal on nonlinear phenomena 'Chaos', are promising.
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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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Germany likely to ramp up CO2 price path

16/12/2019 - Germany is likely to introduce a more ambitious carbon price path than previously envisioned by the Federal government. The mediation committee of the two legislative bodies agreed on a starting price of 25 Euro per ton CO2 in 2021, gradually rising to 55 Euros in 2025. Previously, the German government's plan was to start with 10 Euro, rising to 35 Euro. The national pricing scheme is supposed to complement the European Union's Emissions Trading System. The Green Deal plans just announced by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, might also comprise more substantial carbon pricing. On this issue Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC):
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COP25 climate summit: "weak outcome"

15.12.2019 - This weekend, the world climate summit COP25 in Madrid ran overtime to come to much debated decisions. Together, the two Directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research issued a statement to comment on the outcome. "This is a minimum compromise," says Earth system scientist Johan Rockström. Climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer adds: "The weak outcome of COP25 is sad but no surprise. It highlights that the next world climate summit in Glasgow really needs to be the turning point it is scheduled to be in the 2015 Paris Agreement timetable."
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COP25: Johan Rockström speaks at High Level Event on Climate Emergency

11.12.2019 - Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, addressed the plenary of delegates of COP 25 in Madrid during a High Level Event on Climate Emergency. In his opening remarks he gave an "update from science", stressing that "the red thread in science over the past 20 years, is that we have underestimated the pace of change and the risks we are facing."
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Edenhofer: "The European Green Deal is a bold plan"

12/12/2019 - The President of the EU Commision, Ursula von der Leyen, today presented the European Green Deal in Brussels. On Thursday, the European Council will debate it. Furthermore, it will be presented at the world climate summit COP25 in Madrid. On this issue, Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said in a statement: "The European Green Deal is a bold plan that must now be followed by concrete action."
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Athens: Schellnhuber appointed member of Plato‘s Academy

10/12/2019 – The very word academia derives from a borough in ancient Athens, where Plato gathered his students already in 400 BCE. The heir to Plato’s Academy more than 2,000 years later is Greece’s highest scientific institution, the renowned Academy of Athens. PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has now been appointed to the honourable circle for his outstanding achievements in climate science.
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Global food production at risk of simultaneous heat waves across breadbasket regions

09/12/2019 - Certain patterns in the jet stream encircling the Earth can bring simultaneous heatwaves to breadbasket regions responsible for up to a quarter of global food production. Particularly susceptible are Western North America, Western Europe, Western Russia and Ukraine. Extreme weather events of such extent can significantly harm food production and thus make prices soar. In recent years, major food price spikes were associated with social unrest.
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Leibniz PhD Award for Catrin Ciemer

02.12.2019 - Physicist Catrin Ciemer has been awarded the Leibniz Doctoral Prize for her outstanding doctoral thesis. The prize is awarded annually for the best doctoral theses from Leibniz Institutes in the categories humanities and social sciences as well as natural and technical sciences. The award-winning theses must be distinguished not only by an outstanding evaluation but also by their interdisciplinary significance, application relevance and publication in scientific journals or presentations at scientific conferences. This year's prizewinners were selected from almost 900 doctoral theses completed at Leibniz Institutes in 2018.
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Postdoc Award of the State of Brandenburg for Niklas Boers

02.12.2019 - Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has been awarded the Postdoc Prize of the State of Brandenburg. The prize is awarded by the state of Brandenburg in recognition of excellent research achievements by outstanding young scientists from universities and non-university research institutions.
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COP25: PIK experts in Madrid

02.12.2019 - "Time for Action": About 25,000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the UN Climate Conference COP25 from December 2-13 in Madrid, Spain. "We stand at a critical juncture in our collective efforts to limit dangerous global heating", UN General Secretary António Guterres said at the Opening Ceremony of COP25 in the Spanish Capital. "Millions throughout the world – especially young people – are calling on leaders from all sectors to do more, much more, to address the climate emergency we face. They know we need to get on the right path today, not tomorrow. That means important decisions must be made now," he stressed in his remarks.
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