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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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Potsdam Congress Award and Special Award for the Impacts World Conference 2017

05/03/2019 – In a festive gala the „Impacts World Conference 2017“ has been awarded with the Potsdam Congress Award. Already for the second time the Impacts World Conference of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Change has brought together scientists and decision makers from politics, economy and society to discuss the consequences of global warming under the title “counting the true costs of climate change”. In the category „Regularly recurring events“ the Impacts World 2017 with more than 500 participants from 68 countries convinced the jury “both through comprehensive quality management and through extensive conference documentation on the Internet”
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Schellnhuber addresses climate challenge at Munich Security Conference

04/03/2019 - For the first time, security risks arising from human-made climate change have been a center-stage topic at the Munich Security Conference this year. This unparalleled meeting of global security experts, including heads of states and high-ranking military officials, invited Hans Joachim Schellnhuber to present his assessment of the state of the climate crisis and its consequences for international policy making. Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus and founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, emphasized how reducing greenhouse gas emissions is ultimately a matter of preserving our civilization.
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Make climate impact models fit for extreme events, says study

01/03/2019 - Computer models used for assessing future global climate change risks are doing a good job when it comes to gradual changes, but they may be underestimating the severity of extreme events, finds an international team of scientists led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. They compared, for the first time, a large number of different simulations across sectors with the measured impacts of the 2003 European heat wave. In reality, the heat wave and drought in 2003 hit agriculture and ecosystems hard, and caused thousands of excess fatalities. These extreme impacts were not captured by most of the simulations. This means that there is an urgent need to develop models that better represent impacts from climate extremes. It also means that unmitigated global warming might be more costly and stabilizing our climate hence economically more rewarding than so far estimated.
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Jonathan Donges awarded with most important prize for young German researchers

28/02/2019 - The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research have awarded Jonathan Donges of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research with the most important German prize for young researchers. The Heinz Mayer-Leibnitz Prize will be awarded on 28 May to a total of ten scientists, from chemists to historians. It is endowed with 20,000 euros each. Donges is co-lead of the PIK Future Lab "Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene".
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Amazon forest can be trained by higher rainfall variability – but may be no match for climate change

25.02.2019 - The Amazon rainforest has evolved over millions of years and even through ice ages. Yet today, human influences and global climate change put this huge ecosystem at risk of large-scale dieback – with major consequences for its capability as a global CO2 sink. New research published in Nature Geoscience now reveals a key player in shaping the resilience of the Amazon, and finds that regions with generally higher rainfall variability are more resilient to current and future climate disturbances. However, despite this 'training effect', the Amazon rainforest might not be able to keep up with the pace of ongoing climate change, the study shows.
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Monsoon forecasting for improved climate resilience in Sri Lanka

19/02/2019 - Monsoon prediction specialist Elena Surovyatkina from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) recently visited Sri Lanka on Government invitation for talks with representatives of the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, the Ministry of Disaster Management, the Meteorological Department and the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. Sri Lanka is a tropical insular state east of the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. In a warming world, floods or droughts during monsoon period could become more frequent, potentially affecting millions of people. Long-term monsoon forecasts could help make Sri Lanka more climate resilient.
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Time series networks: “Transforming messy big data into something comprehensible”

04/02/2019 - A first in-depth review of time series networks has now been published by an international team of scientists in Physics Reports, one of the leading journals in its field. While both nonlinear time series analysis and complex networks theory are widely considered to be established areas of research, the combination of both approaches has now become an active field of scientific progress. The review discusses in great detail on more than 80 pages three main approaches. Examples that the authors touch upon reach from climatology to neurophysiology and economics. The team of authors is led by Yong Zou from East China Normal University, Shanghai, while all other authors are from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research, including Jürgen Kurths, co-chair of the department for Complexity Science.
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