PIK Research Days: “Keep digging in your pockets”

02/23/2018 - Scientists and staff of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) gathered this week for their annual roadshow of scientific achievements and discussions of future projects. Climate negotiations, climate migration, public health, sea-level legacy, jet streams, ice losses at Antarctica, carbon pricing – these were just some of the topics presented by PIK’s four research domains. This year’s research days focused in particular on the upcoming 1.5°C IPCC special report as well as on global change, big data and digitalization.
PIK Research Days: “Keep digging in your pockets”
Research Days 2018 (Photo: PIK)

One focal point of this year’s Research Days was global change and digital revolution with a keynote by Ina Schieferdecker, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems FOKUS in Berlin and member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Under the title “Digitalization – not only the climate will change the world”, she particularly stressed the inherent challenges and complexities of digitalization. Likewise, Schellnhuber emphasized that digitalization is “a new frontier of human development – but we might be able to use it in a beneficial way for our environment”. He underscored that digitalization can be a great opportunity but also bears risks: “We cannot leave it to Silicon Valley as artificial intelligence might be able destroy our civilization faster than climate change”.  

Another key aspect of this year´s meeting was the IPCC special report on the implications of a global warming of 1.5°C that will be published in the beginning of October. Following the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015, the forthcoming IPCC special report summarizes the current state of research on the consequences of an increase in the earth's global mean temperature of 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. From the CO2 budget and pathways to short entry points, CDR, or food security and the role of land along with a 1.5°C climate target – the PIK researchers presented studies that might contribute to the IPCC special report. As a concluding note, chief economist and deputy director of PIK Ottmar Edenhofer stressed: “It’s all about the next ten years. We have to find the short-term mitigation entry points.” And he added: “If Germany can’t show that we are able to phase out coal – who else will?”

PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber highlighted PIK’s 300 ISI Publications of last year and the more than 20.000 citations of ISI Publications. “Might this just be the PIK peak? No, we are just at the beginning”, Schellnhuber emphasized. He also pointed to other achievements of PIK like being ranked as the top global environmental think tank 2017, and the accomplishments of scientists of PIK like the AGU Communication Prize for Stefan Rahmstorf, the Karl-Scheel-Preis 2017 and the Early Career Award of the European Geosciences Union for Ricarda Winkelmann, the Leibniz Doctorate Award 2017 for Leonie Wenz, Jürgen Kurths’ ranking as one of the most cited researchers worldwide, and Ottmar Edenhofer’s ranking as Germany’s top climate economist. Towards the whole scientific community at PIK he accentuated: “Each and every one of you might have the key to solve an important problem in his or her pocket. So, keep digging in your pockets”.