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Schellnhuber receives renowned Volvo Environment Prize

11/04/2011 - The Volvo Environment Prize was awarded to the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, in Stockholm yesterday. The internationally recognized prize for “outstanding innovations or scientific discoveries” is in its 20th year and is endowed with 160.000€. Schellnhuber is the first German to receive the prize.
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Strengthening links between Indian and German researchers

10/28/2011 - Indische Wissenschaftler wollen ihre Verbindungen zum Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK) ausbauen. Das Institut für sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Wandel in Bangalore hat Jürgen Kropp eingeladen, bei einer hochrangig besetzten Konferenz vergangene Woche die Hauptrede zu halten sowie die Eröffnung und die Schlussbemerkungen zu machen. Kropp ist Leiter des Nord-Süd-Projekts im PIK-Forschungsbereich Klimawirkung und Vulnerabilität. Unter den mehr als 200 Teilnehmern war der Premierminister und der Präsident des Bundesstaates Karnataka. Das Treffen stand unter dem Motto „Kooperation zwischen Deutschland und Indien stärken“ und wurde von der Humboldt Stiftung unterstützt.
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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.
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Climate Change a core topic at the World Health Summit

10/26/2011 - What are the consequences of climate change for public health? The World Health Summit made this question, rather neglected in public debate, one of its core topics this week. This was a cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK): research domain leader Wolfgang Lucht was one of the two keynote speakers.
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More heat waves: increase of extremes due to climate change

10/24/2011 - The Moscow heat wave last year was, with high probability, the result of climate change – contrary to what some have assumed. With a likelihood of 80 percent, it was not natural short-term climatic variability but the long-term warming trend that caused the temperature record in the region surrounding the Russian capital in July 2010, according to scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). They developed a formula for calculating how frequently weather extremes occur in a changing climate. This week their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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“Paying to avoid”?

10/17/2011 - A high-ranking delegation from Ecuador, led by Ivonne Baki, Head of the Yasuní Initiative Negotiating Team, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) last thursday to promote the so called Yasuní Initiative. The Yasuní Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) Initiative introduces the idea of “paying to avoid” to preserve the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador by leaving its newly found oil reserves in the ground.
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Researchers put new spin on world´s water cycle

10/13/2011 - The final report of the Water and Global Change programme (WATCH), an extensive analysis of the world’s water resources, is made available today, significantly expanding the understanding of climate change and land use impacts on the global hydrological cycle. A total of 25 institutions from 14 European countries participated in this project, including scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Climate change: A risk for plants and animals worldwide

10/07/2011 - Climate change entails a risk for ecosystems on all continents. Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have now identified the scale of danger for animals and plants in a worldwide analysis. For that purpose, they developed a novel measure that for the first time systematically quantifies the impacts of changes in CO2 concentration in the air as well as in temperature and rainfall on terrestrial ecosystems. Computer simulations show that global warming could lead to an expansion of the Kazakh steppe but also lets forests grow in the presently treeless tundra. If global mean temperature rises more than two to three degrees, the impacts in many regions can be drastically amplified.
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„Tireless admonisher“ receives Federal Cross of Merit

10/06/2011 - Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), was awarded the Order of Merit, first class, of the Federal Republic of Germany by President Christian Wulff this tuesday.
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A ‘carbonizing dragon’: China’s growing CO2 emissions due to investments in construction, not just exports

10/05/2011 - Constructing buildings, power-plants, roads is what drives the substantial increase in China’s CO2 emission growth, a new study finds. Fast growing capital investments in infrastructure projects have led to the expansion of the construction industry and its energy and CO2 intensive supply chain including steel and cement production. As a result of this transformation of China’s economy, more and more CO2 is released per unit of gross domestic product recently – a reversion of a long-term trend. Previously China’s greenhouse gas emission growth was driven by rising consumption and exports. Today this emission growth is offset by emission savings from efficiency increases. This now is thwarted by the building of infrastructure – which is even more important as it dictates tomorrow’s emissions, the international team of researchers concludes.
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Art meets science at historic ensemble

10/04/2011 - „The most beautiful science campus of the continent“ is now even prettier: the small cupola of the former photographic refractor on Telegraphenberg was inaugurated – and with it the “Artist in Residence” program, which encourages a dialogue between the sciences and arts.
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Water management: „China is open for advice”

09/26/2011 - More than 140 million people live there, and businesses are booming: water is getting scarce in the Haihe river basin in northern China. High-ranking representatives of the local Water Conservancy Commission now came to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to obtain reports on water management constrained by climate change. For two years, experts from the region – which encompasses the large cities Beijing and Tianjin – have been partnering with those of PIK. Modelling of sustainable use of resources, once developed for the Elbe river region in Germany, is applied to some particularly dry parts of the Haihe.
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Mapping the future: new pathways for greenhouse gas concentrations

09/26/2011 - Behind grand projections of global warming’s impacts and recommendations for mitigation, there is huge not-so-glamourous research. Four new benchmark scenarios for future climate change are being presented now, ranging from – for the first time – a low emission scenario assuming ambitious mitigation action, which would keep temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, to a very high scenario. These so-called Representative Concentration Pathways, also for the first time, have been extended to the year 2300. This is more than just an update of the previously used scenarios.
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Schellnhuber: CCS technology “should not be demonized“

09/22/2011 - The controversial issue of carbon capture and storage, CCS, is on the agenda of the German Bundesrat this week. However, the public debate about this technology is characterized by a variety of fears. It is in this context that the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, is highlighting the relevance of the sequestration of CO2 for climate change mitigation. “Scientific scenarios show that without CCS, avoiding dangerous climate change will be considerably more expensive," says Schellnhuber. “Heavy investment in other technologies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases would then become necessary.”
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Technology funding makes climate protection cheaper

09/19/2011 - To cost-effectively protect the climate, not only an emissions trading scheme but also financial support for new technologies is needed. Economising on targeted funding, for example for renewable energies, makes climate protection more expensive – as scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now calculated for the first time, using a complex computer simulation that spans the entire 21st century. Without funding, energy technologies with high cost reduction potentials will hardly stand a chance, since they require a significant initial investment: a case of market failure.
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Cooperation with the biggest university of the southern hemisphere

09/09/2011 - The biggest university of the southern hemisphere, the Universidade de Sao Paulo, takes part in a premiere: the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Berlin Humboldt University (HU) have founded the first ever German-Brazilian Graduate College – supported as well by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research and its division for climate research and geoecology in Macau. “Dynamic processes in complex networks” are going to be – according to the College’s name – the object of research.
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Pioneering climate researcher: Schellnhuber receives highest-ranking awards

09/08/2011 - For his world-leading contributions to Earth system science and for the transfer of scientific insight into policy, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), will this autumn receive several awards. The Volvo Prize, considered to be the highest-ranking distinction for environmental research, will be presented to Schellnhuber in early November in Sweden. The President of Germany will bestow upon him the Federal Order of Merit, first class, in October in Berlin’s Bellevue Palace. And the renowned University of Copenhagen will honour him with an Honorary Doctorate.
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„Brown coal is not sustainable“: Researchers attend state government session

09/01/2011 - If Brandenburg wants to reach its climate targets, it cannot just carry on relying on power generation from brown coal. This, and more, has been stated by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) this week when attending the state government session. “Such an open and intensive dialogue between science and politics is anything but a matter of course,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of PIK. For the fourth time already, Brandenburg’s prime minister Matthias Platzeck invited Schellnhuber and his colleagues for a discussion on energy policy and climate change.
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Study on the Little Ice Age: Low solar activity just marginally cools the climate

09/01/2011 - The weakening sun was not the determinant factor for the Little Ice Age. Strong volcanic eruptions in particular, but also a smaller amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were important factors during this period of cooler climate in the 16th and 17th century, a new study shows. This implies that low solar activity, which is expected by some researchers for the coming decades, cannot considerably slow down global warming caused by humankind’s greenhouse gas emissions.
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Energy from biomass pays even with forest protection in the long term

08/18/2011 - Forest protection – safeguarding woodland from being cleared and converted to fields for energy crops – reduces the global economic potential of bioenergy only in the short term. If less additional land is available for cultivation, this can be compensated by higher rates of yield-raising investments. This is shown by a new study. However, following this scenario global food production prices could rise considerably.
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Penalizing free-riders: game theory could help climate negotiators

08/29/2011 - All international efforts to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions are hampered by "free-riding" countries. A new approach on how to deal with such countries is given by a study using economic game theory which is to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. In the study, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research show how - at least on paper - a greater degree of international cooperation can be achieved.
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“Both sides benefit”: Chinese-German summer school

08/29/2011 - Together with climate scientists from Beijing, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) invited participants from Germany and China to take part in a summer school. The main focus is on water management in the light of climate change – a pressing issue in many Chinese river regions. On the Chinese side, the National Climate Centre is the academic partner, being the central institution doing research in this field. More than 40 students from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing University, the University of Frankfurt, the Bundeswehr University Munich and other institutions are taking part in the ten-day event.
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"Coming out"

08/10/2011 - Scientists should do science, not appear in the public sphere – that’s a popular view. This week, philosophers and physicists, economists and ecologists discussed this issue in a workshop initiated by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance. “Science has to constantly follow the principle of truth”, says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of PIK. “And that is exactly why it has a societal responsibility.”
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Research on algal blooms honoured

07/14/2011 - Severe algal bloom can lead to the collapse of ecosystems in lakes. How global warming might trigger this phenomenon was the subject of research by Veronika Huber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Her work has been honoured by the University of Potsdam through the award of the Michelson Prize – an annual award for the best PhD thesis in natural sciences. This honour is a further incentive for the successful promotion of young scientists at PIK.
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“Australia in a hot world”

07/12/2011 - Right in the middle of a heated debate in Australia about the carbon tax just announced by the government, a scientific event in Melbourne this week sheds light on the consequences of climate change for down under. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has been invited by Australian climate scientists to give the opening lecture as well as the public keynote speech plus some concluding remarks at the conference “Four degrees or more? Australia in a hot world”.
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Indian Minister of Environment and Forests proposes science and politics to meet in Potsdam

07/04/2011 - Leading scientists and politicians from all over the world are to debate new pathways for international climate negotiations – this was suggested by the Indian Minister of Environment and Forests during a visit to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research this Monday. In time before the next round of negotiations of the global community of states will take place in Durban, South Africa, before the end of the year, Ramesh wants stakeholders to exchange views with the sciences. The question of a fair share of rights for greenhouse gas emissions could be central. “The work of the Potsdam Institute in this field has been groundbreaking”, Ramesh said.
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Researchers refine assessment of tipping elements of the climate system

06/23/2011 - The West Antarctic ice sheet is a potential tipping element of the climate system that might have partially tipped already. According to a study now published in Climatic Change, experts can not rule out that ice masses in the Amundsen Sea sector of Antarctica have already begun to destabilize. This is one of the results of a new assessment of the current state of six potentially unstable regions in the climate system with large direct impacts on Europe. The likelihood of climatic transitions of these elements generally increases as global mean temperature increases due to greenhouse gases emitted by human activity.
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Sea levels rising at fastest rate in 2000 years

06/20/2011 - The rate of sea-level rise since the beginning of industrialization is greater than ever before in the last two thousand years. After many centuries with stable or slowly increasing sea level, around the year 1900 the data curve starts to rise steeply. This is shown by an analysis of sediments from the US Atlantic coast – it is the first continuous sea-level reconstruction covering such a long time span.
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Exit from nuclear power is affordable – but entering a new energy system is challenging

06/10/2011 - The much debated date for phasing out nuclear power in Germany has little impact on consumer prices of electricity, according to scientists. An exit before 2020, however, could push up emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 in the short term. Yet security of supply is the crucial point. This security can only be guaranteed if both renewable energies and fossil power generation along with power grids are scaled up, shows a study which for the first time presents a comprehensive calculation of the effects. Deploying power plants fired by gas instead of coal could, at an equal price, lead to less emissions and more competition.
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Exiting from nuclear power, entering a new energy system

05/06/2011 - Exiting from nuclear power today is a consensus in Germany. It's less clear, however, how entering a new energy system should look like. What are the costs of phasing out nuclear power, depending on the timeline? Which power plant capacities have to be built using not just renewable energy sources but also additional power generation from fossil fuels? Answers to these questions will be given by a new study of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Institute for Infrastructure and Resource Management of the Leipzig University. The results are going to be presented on friday, june 10th, in Berlin.
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