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Destabilising interactions in the Earth system: How climate tipping elements interact

01/26/2024 - Beyond 2°C of global warming, the risk of one climate tipping element triggering other tipping processes in the Earth’s climate system strongly increases. This is the result of a new study by an international team of scientists. They mapped out the current state of literature on the interactions between tipping elements and find that most of them are destabilising, further weakening the climate system.
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Path to clean energy: EU City Calculator

01/24/2024 – A new digital tool designed to help cities to become climate neutral has been launched, with the support of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The EU City Calculator is a free, open source online application, allowing local councils and other stakeholders to visualise and simulate low-carbon scenarios for their towns and cities.
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B-EPICC final conference: Reducing the gap between climate research and its application

01/23/2024 - From 22nd January, guests from the B-EPICC partner countries Brazil, Ethiopia, Peru, Tanzania and India are coming together at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research for the final conference week of the “Brazil East Africa Peru India Climate Capacities” project (B-EPICC). The international project identified how results from state-of-the-art climate impact research can be applied to national and local needs, particularly regarding agriculture, hydrology, biodiversity, and migration issues in the partner countries.
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Planetary Commons: Fostering global cooperation to safeguard critical Earth system functions

01/22/2024 - Tipping elements of the Earth system should be considered global commons, researchers argue in a new paper published in the renowned journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Global commons cannot - as they currently do- only include the parts of the planet outside of national borders, like the high seas or Antarctica. They must also include all the environmental systems that regulate the functioning and state of the planet, namely all systems on Earth we all depend on, irrespective on where in the world we live. This calls for a new level of transnational cooperation, leading experts in legal, social and Earth system sciences say. To limit risks for human societies and secure critical Earth system functions they propose a new framework of planetary commons to guide governance of the planet.
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EU climate Advisory Board: EU needs to significantly accelerate its emission reductions

01/18/2024 - More efforts are needed across all sectors to achieve the EU climate objectives from 2030 to 2050, states a new report by the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC). Specifically, the report “Towards EU climate neutrality: progress, policy gaps and opportunities” identifies main gaps in the EU’s post-2030 climate policy, with providing a stable investment outlook for renewables and the revision of the EU energy taxation as pressing issues.
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Covid-19, climate change, armed conflicts: world’s crises can lead to interconnected polycrisis

01/17/2024 – The world is currently experiencing a worsening polycrisis, caused by an entanglement and nonlinear amplification of many of the world’s crises, like the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and armed conflicts such as Russia’s war on Ukraine. This is the result of a new paper authored by an international team of scientists, including PIK Director Johan Rockström. The researchers establish a substantive definition for a polycrisis and deliver a theoretical framework to better understand and address the entangled driving mechanisms behind contemporary global crises.
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Resonant planetary waves contributed to Pacific Northwest Heat Dome event of 2021

01/17/2024 - Recent decades have witnessed unprecedented heat waves with severe repercussions for human society. However, the causes for the extremity of some of these heat events are not yet understood. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now show, that the severe 'heat dome' incident in the north-western region of the US in 2021 was partly caused by the quasi-resonant amplification of planetary waves, a theory originally developed by the late renowned PIK scientist Vladimir Petoukhov. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS today, the findings hold the potential for more skillful predictions of potentially devastating future weather extremes.
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4 of the 10 climate science papers most referred to in news and social media authored by PIK researchers

01/10/2024 - 4 of the top 10 peer-reviewed climate science papers most referred to in news and social media in 2023 featured authors from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), a ranking by the website Carbon Brief based on Altmetric scores reveils. Altmetric tracks how often research papers from academic journals are mentioned in online news media, blogs or on social media platforms. The metric is an indicator for public perception of scientific publications.
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More rain, fewer droughts – rainfall effects from targeted forestation can reduce climate change

01/10/2024 - By prioritizing increases in rainfall, forestation programs may not only mitigate global climate change itself but also reduce its concrete negative effects such as droughts. That is the conclusion of a new study by a team of researchers including the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Fred Hattermann appointed as Honorary Professor in Eberswalde

01/09/2024 - Fred Hattermann, Working Group Leader of 'Hydroclimatic Risks' at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has been appointed to a Honorary Professorship of Climate Change and Hydrology by the Department of Forestry and Environment at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development end of last year.
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Real progress, yet transition away from fossil fuels too vague: PIK Assessment on COP28 closing

12/13/2023 - After two weeks of negotiations, the UN climate summit COP28 in Dubai closed. More than 70.000 people from all over the world took part in the conference focused on the first Global Stocktake of climate plans and further steps for international climate action from 30 November to 13 December. Among them were PIK Directors Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström.
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500+ pages, 200+ researchers: Global Tipping Points Report delivers comprehensive assessment of tipping point risks and societal opportunities

12/06/2023 - Tipping points pose some of the biggest risks to our planet’s life-support systems and the stability of our societies. In an unprecedented effort by the scientific community, researchers have now published a comprehensive report on Earth system tipping points and their potential impacts and opportunities for societal change. More than 200 scientists from around the world contributed to the ‘Global Tipping Points Report’. The report with more than 500 pages provides an authoritative guide to the state of knowledge on tipping points, explores opportunities for accelerating much needed transformations, and outlines options for a new governance of tipping point risks and opportunities.
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CO2 emissions at record high in 2023

12/05/2023 - Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use will amount to 36.8 billion tonnes in 2023, a record high that exceeds the 2022 level by 1.1% - the latest Global Carbon Budget report finds. This is a long way off the significant reductions that are needed to reach the Paris Agreement climate goals.
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Chancellor Olaf Scholz visits PIK and GFZ

12/04/2023 - During a visit to Potsdam's Telegrafenberg early Monday morning, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Brandenburg's Research Minister Manja Schüle spoke with researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ). The discussion in the Historical Library centred on the potential and challenges of geothermal energy and underground hydrogen storage.
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10 New Insights in Climate Science at COP28: Rapid fossil fuels phase-out crucial for minimising 1.5°C overshoot

12/03/2023 - Today, global experts in social and natural sciences have unveiled the annual 10 New Insights in Climate Science report. The report represents the efforts of 67 leading researchers, including several scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), to synthesize the latest insights in climate change research in order to help inform negotiations at the ongoing COP28 and policy implementation through 2024 and beyond.
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1.5°C pathways can still be achieved, combining fairness and global climate protection

12/02/2023 - Global warming can still be limited to 1.5°C by 2100 while ensuring that the poor are not hit hardest by climate policies and climate impacts. This is achieved by immediately introducing broad carbon pricing together with re-distributive policies using carbon pricing revenues and further measures to reduce energy consumption, accelerate technological transitions, and transform the land sector. The results from multiple integrated assessment models (IAMs) show that a combination of producer and consumer-oriented measures can work together to rapidly reduce emissions. The comprehensive results on 1.5°C pathways in line with the Paris Agreement are synthesised in a report of the European project NAVIGATE. The new report presented at COP28 provides a blueprint for achieving a rapid, fair and efficient transformation to net zero emissions.
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PIK expertise at COP 28 in Dubai

30/11/2023 - The major review of all climate policy measures planned to date and the organisation of the climate fund are among the central topics of the 28th UN World Climate Conference in Dubai. From 30 November to 12 December, delegates from the UN countries will discuss further steps, including the climate fund agreed at COP27, which is intended to help poorer countries cope with the damage caused by climate change. Progress on the climate policy goals and measures agreed in the Paris Agreement will also be reviewed as part of the "Global Stocktake". More than 70,000 people from all over the world are taking part in the conference, including experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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Future floods: Global warming intensifies heavy rain – even more than expected

11/27/2023 - The intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall increases exponentially with global warming, a new study finds. The analysis by researchers from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK) shows that state-of-the-art climate models significantly underestimate how much extreme rainfall increases under global warming – meaning that extreme rainfall could increase quicker than climate models suggest.
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A fifth higher: Tropical cyclones substantially raise the Social Cost of Carbon

11/23/2023 - Extreme events like tropical cyclones have immediate impacts, but also long-term implications for societies. A new study published in the journal Nature Communications now finds: Accounting for the long-term impacts of these storms raises the global Social Cost of Carbon by more than 20 percent, compared to the estimates currently used for policy evaluations. This increase is mainly driven by the projected rise of tropical-cyclone damages to the major economies of India, USA, China, Taiwan, and Japan under global warming.
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More new fossil gas heating systems, only tentative progress: energy transition update

11/22/2023 - Reduced fossil fuel consumption due to the energy crisis, tentative positive signs in the expansion of renewable energy capacities, electric cars and heat pumps – but all this is not happening fast enough, according to new figures from the Ariadne Transformation Tracker. Moreover, the German energy transition is not yet on track when it comes to phasing out fossil fuels in the heating and transport sectors. Instead of the necessary decline, there has been a clear increase in the sale of new cars with combustion engines and new gas heating systems compared to the previous year.
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Highly Cited: PIK scientists among top 1% of the world's most cited researchers

11/15/2023 – For the sixth year in a row, numerous researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are among the top 1 percent of the renowned “Highly Cited Researchers” worldwide. The influential ranking, published by Clarivate Analytics' science platform Web of Science, is based on the number of times scientists' papers are cited by other researchers – a very important indicator of scientific relevance. The 2023 edition includes eight PIK researchers from different research departments, also PIK Director Johan Rockström.
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Land taxation can reduce wealth inequality

11/14/2023 - Taxing land instead of capital could reduce the widening gap between rich and poor in societies, finds a new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). A team of scientists shows that, in a world of rising inequality, shifting the tax burden away from capital to land taxation could restore balance and promote economic growth. Especially people with little or no wealth could benefit from land taxes, for example in the form of less rapidly rising housing costs. The few municipalities, that have implemented land rent taxation so far, have used it to finance public transport, among other infrastructure investments.
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In Memory of Saleemul Huq

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK is deeply saddened by the loss of Professor Saleemul Huq, who passed away on the 28 October 2023.
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Novel perspectives on cross-border cascading climate change impacts and systemic risks

10/27/2023 – Transitioning towards climate-adaptive and resilient societies – that was the overarching aim of the conference “Cross-border climate change impacts and systemic risks in Europe and beyond” at Potsdam-Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK). For three days in mid-October, 150 scientists from all over the world came together across disciplines to better understand and respond to the emerging topic of cross-border climate impacts and risks.
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How changes in the Arctic shape global weather patterns

10/26/2023 – Weather instabilities in the Arctic and changes in air temperature in distant regions such as California and Southwest China are linked, an international team of researchers reveals. Their study has been published in Nature Communications. The scientists also demonstrate that increased day-to-day irregularities in Arctic sea ice cover are caused by the Arctic’s rapid sea ice decline.
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2023 year of record extremes: new report

10/24/2023 – In 2023, anomalies like high temperatures, ocean-warming and more frequent wild fire events have reached unprecedented records until now, shows a new report by an international team of researchers, among them Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The scientists find that these records weaken the Earth’s vital signs and warn that the increasingly frequent occurrences of climate-related could possibly endanger life on Earth by the end of this century if business is continued as usual.
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More interdisciplinary science: Green light for additional institutional funding of PIK

10/19/2023 - From interdisciplinary basic research to scientific policy advice: the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has received the green light from the committee of the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz, GWK) of the German federal and state governments for its plans to expand the institute. The additional institutional funding will strengthen its expertise topics by securing investment for three cutting edge and so far little-researched topics. At the same time, the integration of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) will establish a policy research hub at the interface between research and policy from 2025 onward.
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Timely reversal of global warming could prevent Greenland ice sheet tipping

10/18/2023 - The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be more resistant to global warming than previously thought, finds a new study published in the scientific journal Nature. An international team of scientists shows that even if critical temperature thresholds are temporarily crossed by up to 6.5 degrees Celsius until 2100, a possible tipping of the ice sheet and therefore drastic sea level rise over hundreds of thousands of years could be prevented. To achieve this, measures to reduce greenhouse gases would have to be taken as quickly as possible following the critical rise in temperature, so that the temperature can be stabilized at no more than 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels in the long term.
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Diabetes, dementia, depression: Adapting fuel taxes could benefit people’s health

10/13/2023 - The health benefits from walking and cycling are so significant that they should be included in fuel tax design, shows of a new study published in the journal Economica. Optimal fuel tax rates would increase by 44% in the US and by 38% in the UK if the costs for the health system that arise from too little exercise were taken into account. The revenue could be used for low-carbon transport or to compensate affected households to build support for sustainable transport.
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Alexander Popp appointed to the new Lancet Commission on Prevention of Viral Spillover

10/12/2023 - Alexander Popp, research group leader on Land-Use Management at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), has been appointed as a Commissioner to the newly established Lancet–PPATS Commission on Prevention of Viral Spillover. The Commission strives to reduce risk of future pandemics while promoting a healthier, more sustainable and more equitable future. The new Commission kicks off its work on 13 October 2023.
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