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Sea level rise: West Antarctic ice collapse may be prevented by snowing ocean water onto it

18/07/2019 - The ice sheet covering West Antarctica is at risk of sliding off into the ocean. While further ice-sheet destabilisation in other parts of the continent may be limited by a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the slow, yet inexorable loss of West Antarctic ice is likely to continue even after climate warming is stabilised. A collapse might take hundreds of years but will raise sea levels worldwide by more than three meters. A team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is now scrutinising a daring way of stabilising the ice sheet: Generating trillions of tons of additional snowfall by pumping ocean water onto the glaciers and distributing it with snow canons. This would mean unprecedented engineering efforts and a substantial environmental hazard in one of the world’s last pristine regions – to prevent long-term sea level rise for some of the world’s most densely populated areas along coastlines from the US to China.
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“New Market Design is needed”: lessons to learn from renewable energy regulation in California and Germany

09.07.2019 - Important lessons can be learned from the two global frontrunners in the energy transition, Germany and California, a new report shows. Being the 4th biggest and 5th biggest economies worldwide, both jurisdictions draw more than 30 percent of their electricity from wind and solar and biomass, both have ambitious renewables targets of 80 and 100 percent by mid-century. An international team of scientists from Germany and the US now analyzed Californian and German policy pathways to draw conclusions for the way ahead. They find that market and renewable policy design adjustments in both jurisdictions to integrate the first 30 percent were small compared to the adjustments needed to integrate the second 30 percent. Importantly, strengthening CO2-pricing and policies to foster electrification must be an integral part of this.
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Environment Council presents new special report on the legimitimacy of environmental policy

27.06.2019 - In its new special report, the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) discusses the legitimacy of environmental policy and proposes institutional developments for policy and administration. The 300-page paper is entitled "Democratic governance within ecological boundaries - on the legimitation of environmental policy". Against the background of long-term and systemic environmental problems, the members explain how a the state is not only legitimised to act but also obliged, to preserve people's livelihoods. The report was presented to Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze in Berlin.
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Strengthening climate protection "bottom up": Municipal workshop at PIK

27.06.2019 - Mayors and other representatives of municipalities and counties in Germany meet this week in Potsdam to discuss how climate protection can be strengthened "bottom up". Organised by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the two-day "KliB-up Municipal Workshop" will focus on a climate friendly everyday lifes and the involvement of citizens in active municipal climate protection. Many municipalities and rural districts have been active in this field for years and have set themselves ambitious climate targets, such as the so-called master plan municipalities in Germany. These targets can hardly be achieved without the commitment of private households. How a climate friendly everyday life could look like in practice, more than 100 households in Berlin recently already tested that in the context of the PIK living lab "Klimaneutral leben in Berlin" (KliB). As a result, the participating households were about 33 percent below the German average at the end of the one-year project.
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Breaking the rules: Monsoon and climate change

26.06.2019 - With global warming the Monsoon is changing, breaking well-established “rules” of the phenomenon, becoming more and more erratic and unpredictable. Close to half of the global population depends on monsoon rainfall. For the fourth year in a row, Elena Surovyatkina from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) successfully predicted the onset of the Indian Summer Monsoon in the central part of India more than a month in advance with a new forecast method. This method accounts for climate change effects and hence makes forecasting possible.
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"Heat waves are on the rise": PIK statement

24/06/2019 - Germany likely faces a heat wave this week. In which way is this releated to human-caused climate change?
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37th German Protestant Kirchentag with Rockström and Schellnhuber

21/06/2019 - With an acting director and the director Emeritus speaking, the Potsdam Institute was prominently represented at the 37th Protestant Church Congress in Dortmund. Director Rockström discussed the global challenges in the fields of environment, climate and justice with the Chair of the Council of the Protestand Church of Germany, Bedford-Strohm, the doctor and cabaret artist Eckart von Hirschhausen and the climate activist Luisa Neubauer. Schellnhuber spoke at an event with Federal Environment Minister Schulze on the subject of coal phasing out. The Kirchentag is the most important outreach event of the Protestant Church in Germany, with over 2400 events and more than 100,000 visitors.
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A game-changing gathering in the Vatican? Big oil and big finance agree on carbon-risk disclosure and CO2 pricing

20.06.2019 - Big Oil and Big Finance, convened by the Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) for a dialogue on “The Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home”, agreed to join the efforts of science and society to contain the climate crisis. Pope Francis himself joined the distinguished meeting to address the high-ranking business representatives, referring to his papal Encyclical “Laudato Si” which contributed substantially to achieving the groundbreaking 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. John Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and member of PAS, was the only climate scientist invited to the dialogue. He gave the opening lecture and played a crucial role in the making of the declarations signed by almost all participants.
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First Professor for Climate Change and Health appointed

17/06/2019 - Is climate change a global health emergency? Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have joined forces to create the first-ever Professorship for Climate Change and Health in any German medical school. Its purpose will be to study the links between climate change and population health. The physician and epidemiologist Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Gabrysch has now been appointed.
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CO2-pricing: German chancellor Angela Merkel visited PIK for a scientific briefing

14/06/2019 - For more than two hours, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) last Thursday, June 13th, to discuss climate change and climate policy with Director Ottmar Edenhofer and other researchers. A special focus of the meeting lay on options for an effective and fair CO2 pricing. Besides Mrs Merkel, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor, Helge Braun, spokesman State Secretary Steffen Seibert and experts from the Chancellery also took part. A good two dozen researchers from all research departments at PIK were involved in the round table discussion taking place the Great Cupola of PIK's historic Michelson building and presented research results on climate risks and possible solutions for the climate crisis.
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Initiated instability in West Antarctica might be the fastest on the continent

13/06/2019 - All around the Antarctic coastline there are ice sheet instabilities waiting to be triggered. If this happens ice flows inexorably into the ocean and raises sea levels worldwide. The one region where instability likely has already been initiated by a warming of the ocean is probably the region which collapses faster than any other, find scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Even though the rapid ice loss takes decades to unfold and centuries to complete, the speed of ice loss from Antarctica is already a major driver of global sea level rise. It will affect hundreds of millions of people living near the world’s coastlines, from Miami to Shanghai.
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First conference for research software in Germany

11/06/2019 - After the success of the first three international conferences of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) in Great Britain, the first conference in Germany on the topic of research software took place from 4 to 6 June 2019 in the Albert Einstein Science Park in Potsdam. Research Software Engineers (RSEs) are people who develop research software, regardless of their job title and degree. Some 200 attendees from Germany and other parts of Europe took part in the fully booked conference: a broad mix of researchers from various fields, experts in software funding and financing, developers and software service providers. Organizers were Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI) - Fachbereich Softwaretechnik (SWT), de-RSE e.V. - Gesellschaft für Forschungssoftware, the Potsdam Research Centre of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Lucht at meeting of all CDU/CSU parliamentary group leaders

06/04/2019 - The German conservative party CDU/CSU is re-thinking climate policy. The elected representatives invited experts Wolfgang Lucht from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Patrick Graichen from the Agora Energiewende to the two-day conference of all parliamentary group chairmen - from the state parliaments in the German "Länder" to the federal level in the Bundestag and the European Parliament - this week in Weimar. They discussed risks of human-made global warming, from extreme weather events to changing our landscapes, as well as the possibilities for an effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The conference was also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder.
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Climate protection and peace are two sides of the same coin: Berlin Climate and Security Conference

04/06/2019 –Climate change knows no borders, and climate crises can affect security, ranging from food security and displacement to an increasing number of natural disasters. Indeed, a destabilised Earth system can make peace harder to achieve and sustain, and may even be a contributing factor to new violent conflicts. This makes our climate a foreign policy issue. In cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office and the think tank adelphi, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has initiated the Berlin Climate and Security Conference to provide a forum for this rising issue. The summit will gather support for the “Berlin Call for Action”, directed at every foreign policy institution to step up efforts to address one of the greatest global security and foreign policy challenges of the 21st century: Climate change.
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German coal phase-out could be in vain without CO2-pricing

04/06/2019 - It cannot be taken for granted that Germany’s plan to phase out coal by 2038 will actually decrease CO2 emissions on the European level. On the contrary, the phase-out could even increase emissions due to a complicated new mechanism in the European Emissions Trading Scheme, a team of researchers shows in a new analysis. To make sure the coal phase-out really helps stabilise the climate, it must be combined with a minimum price for CO2 or the cancellation of existing emission certificates.
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Summer extremes of 2018 linked to stalled giant waves in jet stream

29/04/2019 - Record breaking heatwaves and droughts in North America and Western Europe, torrential rainfalls and floods in South-East Europe and Japan - the summer of 2018 brought a series of extreme weather events that occurred almost simultaneously around the Northern Hemisphere in June and July. These extremes had something in common, a new study by an international team of climate researchers now finds: the events were connected by a newly identified pattern of the jet stream encircling the Earth. The jet stream formed a stalled wave pattern in the atmosphere which made weather conditions more persistent and thus extreme in the affected regions. The same pattern also occurred during European heat waves in 2015, 2006 and 2003, which rank among the most extreme heatwaves ever recorded. In recent years, the scientists observed a clear increase of these patterns.
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Dutch royal couple visits Telegrafenberg

05/22/2019 - King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands visited the Albert Einstein Science Park on Potsdam's Telegrafenberg during their stay in the State of Brandenburg today. In the presence of Brandenburgs Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke and Minister of Science Martina Münch, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the GeoResearchCenter (GFZ) signed cooperation agreements with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and TU Delft. The agreements are on geothermal research and research on weather extremes.
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The Long Night of the Sciences at PIK

20/05/2019 - In a few weeks, over 60 scientific institutions will be opening their doors to the public all across Berlin and Potsdam-Telegrafenberg. On June 15th from 17-24h, events will cover the natural sciences, engineering, social and cultural studies, medicine and much more. Whether it’s in lectures, science shows or in hands-on experiments, there is much to discover and to learn at the Long Night of the Sciences. Here is some information on the programme at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK):
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Petersberg Climate Dialogue: Johan Rockström addresses global leaders on climate action

14.05.2019 - "Science is clear: If we want to stabilize our climate, we need a fundamental change in all sectors of society. Because the bar is high: We need to halve our emissions every decade from now on. Only in this way can we attain zero net emissions by the middle of this century”, Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told international leaders on the occasion of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. The two-day event is one of the most high-level events in terms of climate policy on the German and international political agenda, bringing together ministers and high-level representatives from 35 countries. The conference was co-hosted by the German Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze, and her Chilean counterpart, Carolina Schmidt, who is also President of the next UN Climate Change Conference in Santiago de Chile (COP 25).
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Climate mitigation can – and must – include policies to assure food security

13/05/2019 – Policies that aim at limiting dangerous climate change need to account for food security issues. For the first time, tradeoffs between climate mitigation and food security have now been analyzed in a so-called multi-model assessment: many different computer simulations dealing with the same issue. The costs for food-smart climate policies are around 0.2% of global economic output in 2050, an international team of scientists. However, carelessly designed climate policy could increase the number of people at risk of hunger, at least compared to a baseline scenario, according to the study now published in Nature Sustainability. Compared to today, the number of people at risk of hunger is likely to sink in all scenarios studied. Yet if no climate policy at all would be implemented, the resulting risks for crop failure due to droughts and floods might also lead to hunger and costs. Including these impacts of extreme events is a challenge for future research.
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Johan Rockström speaks at re:publica conference in Berlin

07/05/2019 – Participants from all strands of life gather this week in Berlin at the re:publica conference, the festival for and by the digital society. From workshops, to lectures, screenings and meetups – more than 1,000 experts will be sharing input on “digital” topics as diverse as artificial intelligence, copyright law or platform economies. A special focus of this year’s re:publica is on climate and sustainability. PIK-director Johan Rockström will deliver a keynote on planetary boundaries on the festival’s closing day.
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PIK researchers issue new early forecast of Indian Summer Monsoon

05/07/2019 - The Indian Summer Monsoon will likely reach Central India between 10th and 18th of June 2019, according to the new forecast method developed at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). This forecast of the monsoon onset date issued more than one month in advance is the earliest and only one available in India to date. PIK scientist Elena Surovyatkina leads the Monsoon forecasts that showed to be successful already three years in a row. The monsoon onset date is of crucial importance for the 1.35 billion people in India – the livelihoods of about 70 percent of its population are directly related to farming and agriculture. Climate change affects monsoon variability and hence makes accurate forecasting even more important.
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New method to better understand much-employed self-learning Artificial Intelligence

11/04/2019 - Recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research result from the combination of deep neuronal networks and reinforcement learning. In the latter, agents are able to learn rewarding behaviours in unknown environments by an iterative trial-and-error behaviour update process. But this process is not yet fully understood. Reinforcement learning agents are a specific area of AI. As AI can have a big impact on society, a better understanding AI systems is crucial to assess potential challenges and risks. Already today, AI is employed to steer cars, manage production lines, or even draft texts. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has developed a new method to investigate those algorithms using insights from statistical physics. Published in the journal Physical Reviews E, their insights can help to improve the design of large-scale AI reinforcement learning systems.
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Girls'Day: Students explore the world of climate science at PIK

10/04/2019 – On Girls'Day – Future Prospects for Girls – on March 28th, 2019 around 100,000 girls across the country left stereotypes behind to get to know professions and academic disciplines in which women are still underrepresented. Among them several young students who wanted to learn more about climate science and working as a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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German Advisory Council on Global Change issues Report: Digital change and successful climate protection can only succeed together

11/04/2019 - The ongoing digitalisation and the transformation towards more sustainability and climate protection can only succeed together, states the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) in its report "Towards Our Common Digital Future". Digitalisation must be put at the service of sustainable development. If this fails, digital change could further exacerbate climate and environmental problems, for example by increasing resource and energy consumption, the council’s experts warn, including Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The report was presented to the German Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek and the German Federal Minister of the Environment Svenja Schulze in Berlin.
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German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina presents "clean air" statement

09/04/2019 - The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has published a statement on "Clean Air - Nitrogen Oxides and Respirable Particulate Matter” calling for a federal strategy on clean air and a sustainable transport transition. Member of the interdisciplinary Leopoldina expert group and one of the authors of the statement is PIK director Ottmar Edenhofer.
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Stefan Rahmstorf receives ZEIT Wissen prize “Courage for Sustainability”

09/04/2019 – Stefan Rahmstorf has been awarded the "ZEIT Wissen-Prize 'Mut zur Nachhaltigkeit' – Encouraging Sustainability" for his achievements in communicating climate change. With this award, the magazine of the ZEIT publishing group honours pioneers from science, industry, and civil society, who contribute outstandingly to closing the gap between knowledge and action in the area of sustainable development. The prize is endowed with 10,000 euros.
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More CO2 than ever before in 3 million years, shows unprecedented computer simulation

03/04/2019 - CO2 greenhouse gas amounts in the atmosphere are likely higher today than ever before in the past 3 million years. For the first time, a team of scientists succeeded to do a computer simulation that fits ocean floor sediment data of climate evolution over this period of time. Ice age onset, hence the start of the glacial cycles from cold to warm and back, the study reveals, was mainly triggered by a decrease of CO2-levels. Yet today, it is the increase of greenhouse gases due to the burning of fossil fuels that is fundamentally changing our planet, the analysis further confirms. Global mean temperatures never exceeded the preindustrial levels by more than 2 degrees Celsius in the past 3 million years, the study shows – while current climate policy inaction, if continued, would exceed the 2 degrees limit already in the next 50 years.
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Greta Thunberg visits PIK at Telegrafenberg-Campus

03.04.2019 - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden recently visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, the 22-year-old activist of the German „Fridays for Future“-Movement, met with the Directors Johan Rockström and Ottmar Edenhofer and other experts from PIK. They discussed topics like the Paris Agreement and the latest insights from climate science and talked with scientists like Ricarda Winkelmann, Stefan Rahmstorf or Jessica Strefler, as well as PIK Director Emeritus Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, about their research at the institute.
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Leibniz Start-Up Award for "elena international" from PIK

25/03/2019 - "Electricity network analysis" - the spin-off "elena" of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has been awarded the Leibniz Start-Up Award 2019. Endowed with 50,000 euros, the prize was awarded for a new application for the expansion of renewable energies in micro and island power systems.
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