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Importance of solar energy underestimated by a factor of three

08/28/2017 - The growth of solar energy has been grossly underestimated in the results of the models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Costs have dropped and infrastructures expanded much faster than even the most optimistic models had assumed. A new study led by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) - founded by Stiftung Mercator and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) - shows that in 2050, the percentage of photovoltaics in the global power supply could be three times higher than previously projected. According to the study, published in the journal Nature Energy, the share of solar energy will likely range between 30 and 50 percent, instead of 5 to 17 percent, as suggested before—even if the global demand for electricity continues to rise.
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Better farm water management can help to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

07/20/2017 - Water use for food production today largely occurs on the expense of ecosystems. About 40 percent of the water used for irrigation are unsustainable withdrawals that violate so-called environmental flows of rivers, a new study shows for the first time. If these volumes were to be re-allocated to the ecosystems, crop yields would drop by at least 10 percent on half of all irrigated land, especially in Central and South Asia. This points to a tradeoff between water and food UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, improvement of irrigation practices could sustainably compensate for such losses at global scale. More integrated strategies, including rainwater management, could even achieve a 10 percent net gain of production.
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AGU prize for climate communication awarded to Stefan Rahmstorf

07/20/2017 - The World's largest organization of Earth scientists will honor Stefan Rahmstorf with its Climate Communication Prize. The American Geophysical Union (AGU) gives this award for outstanding promotion of scientific literacy, clarity of message and efforts to foster understanding of science-based values as they relate to the implications of global warming. The physicist and oceanographer Rahmstorf, co-chair of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany, is the first scientist outside the US to receive the renowned prize.
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Unabated climate change would reverse the development gains in Asia: report

14/07/2017 - Unabated climate change would bring devastating consequences to countries in Asia and the Pacific, which could severely affect their future growth, reverse current development gains, and degrade quality of life, according to a report produced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
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From dry to wet: Rainfall might abruptly increase in Africa’s Sahel

06/07/2017 - Climate change could turn one of Africa's driest regions into a very wet one by suddenly switching on a Monsoon circulation. For the first time, scientists find evidence in computer simulations for a possible abrupt change to heavy seasonal rainfall in the Sahel, a region that so far has been characterized by extreme dryness. They detect a self-amplifying mechanism which might kick-in beyond 1.5-2 degrees Celsius of global warming – which happens to be the limit for global temperature rise set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Although crossing this new tipping point is potentially beneficial, the change could be so big, it would be a major adaptation challenge for an already troubled region.
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PIK ranked among top five climate think tanks worldwide

07/05/2017 - The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was again ranked among the best climate think tanks worldwide. The new Climate Think Tank Ranking by the International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG) places PIK among the top five climate think tanks globally and among the top three of climate thinks tanks in Europe. Altogether the ranking considers 240 cutting-edge institutions working in the field of climate change economics and policy. Based on a solid quantitative methodology and analytical data, the ICCG lists non-university affiliated think tanks in an absolute and a standardized ranking – the first measures the think tank’s efficiency in per capita/researcher terms, whilst the latter measures performance regardless of their efficiency and hence size.
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Why Climate Policy matters for the G20 finance ministers’ agenda

06/30/2017 - In order to stay below the 2 °C guardrail set in the Paris Agreement, climate policy should be integrated with the G20 finance ministers’ agenda. Finance ministers should consider the merits of carbon pricing for sound fiscal policy and thereby stimulate investments in carbon-free infrastructure. “It is rational for G20 finance ministers to embrace climate policy, even if climate change is not their primary concern,” writes a team of authors led by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in an article published in the new issue of the journal Nature Climate Change. In their article “Aligning climate policy with finance ministers’ G20 agenda”, Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Director of MCC, together with MCC Secretary General Brigitte Knopf and colleagues from other institutions argue that investments in fossil fuels have become more risky in the post-Paris world.
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Dinosaurs, a climate archive and a time machine - full commitment for the "smartest night"

06/29/2017 - Everything was just right: a mild summer evening, thousands of guests and open doors to architectural beauties, which gave insig hts into the results and methods of top research. At the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), visitors to the Long Night of Sciences were able to learn about climate change through guided tours, lectures and discussions with experts.
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Physical Society of Berlin honors Ricarda Winkelmann

06/28/2017 – Ricarda Winkelmann received the Karl-Scheel-Preis 2017, the most important prize of the Physikalische Gesellschaft zu Berlin (Physical Society of Berlin). Since 1958, the award is given annually to young scientists in the first years after their doctoral graduation for outstanding achievements. Winkelmann is honored for her excellent scientific work on the impacts of climate change on the Antarctic ice sheet and the global sea-level rise.
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Use a “Carbon Law” to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

03/24/2017 - To bridge the gap between science-based targets focused on cutting greenhouse gases, and national commitments to such efforts, international experts propose in the highly renowned journal ‘Science’ a decadal roadmap strategy for achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century. They base this on a simple “carbon law” of halving anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions each decade. “A carbon law applies to all sectors and countries at all scales and encourages bold action in the short term,” say Johan Rockström and colleagues. Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, argue that a “carbon law” that links short-term targets to long-term goals will “provide key elements for national and international climate strategies.” Such a broad decadal roadmap would focus on four dimensions: innovation, institution, infrastructure, and investment, and it would encompass sectors such as agriculture, construction, finance, manufacturing, and transport.
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Networking and training: PhD-Day at PIK

05/10/2017 - A whole day to get together, share experiences and train in different science related fields: The doctoral candidates of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research met for a conference recently to discuss their work and compare notes with each other on their theses. Next to new PhD candidates that introduced their work to their colleagues, the day focused on several inputs on topics like communication, time management, slide writing and presentation techniques. There are currently 73 young researchers from 18 countries working on their PhDs across all four PIK research domains.
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Blue Planet Prize awarded to Potsdam climate scientist Schellnhuber

06/14/2017 - The world's most important award for pioneers in sustainability research will be given to the Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. This has been announced today in Tokyo by the Asahi Glass Foundation. The Blue Planet Prize of 50 million Yen honours thinkers and doers for major contributions to solving global environmental problems. Schellnhuber receives the award for establishing the 2 degrees Celsius guardrail of global warming agreed by the governments of all countries at the UN climate summit in Paris. Furthermore, the physicist Schellnhuber shaped the science of Earth System Analysis and developed the most influential concept of tipping elements.
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Dynamics in power systems: from science to industry

06/12/2017 - Power grids face new challenges due to climate change. While global warming from fossil fuel emissions forces us to replace coal plants by energy input from clean sources such as solar and wind, the latter are more variable and hence not easy to integrate. A meeting of experts from both science and industry at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now aims at transferring findings from mathematical research on grid stability to the practioners.
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"This decision marks the end of the American century" - PIK and the Trump effect

06/09/2017 - Last week US President Donald Trump has announced that he will leave the Paris climate agreement. This step not only triggered a wave of indignation around the world, but also led to a media rush on the scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. They were able to assess the decision and the importance of the Paris agreement for climate protection.
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Schellnhuber on Trump: "Hiding in the trenches of the past instead of building the future"

US President Trump announced that he wants to leave the Paris Climate Agreement. "It will not substantially hamper global climate progress if the USA quit the Paris Agreement, but it will hurt the American economy and society alike," comments Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, member of the Advisory Council on Global Change for the German government, and chair of the High Level Panel on Decarbonisation Pathways for the European Commission. China and Europe have become world leaders on the path towards green development already and will strengthen their position if the US slips back at the national level. Innovative states such as California, the world's sixth largest economy, will keep going for climate action, however. The Washington people around Trump hide in the trenches of the past instead of building the future. They fail to recognize that the climate wars are over, while the race for sustainable prosperity is on."
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Fires, storms, insects: climate change increases risks for forests worldwide

05/31/2017 - Droughts, fires and wind as well as insects and fungal attacks: all of them result in stress for the forests of the Earth – and they are all influenced by climate change. About a third of worldwide land surface is covered by forests, but knowledge about how disruptive factors that affect them interact with one another in the context of global climate change is still lacking, as these are often analyzed separately and on a local scale. Now for the first time, an international team of scientists has comprehensively examined possible climate impacts on disturbances in forests. The team did this on a basis of more than 600 research papers of the last 30 years. Published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, their results show that increasing risks for forests have to be expected in the future.
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Carbon Pricing Report launched by leading economists

05/29/2017 - Meeting the world’s agreed climate goals in the most cost-effective way while fostering growth requires countries to set a strong carbon price. That’s the key conclusion of the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, presented in a major report today in Berlin by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University, New York) and Nicholas Stern (London School of Economics), along with commission members Mari Pangestu (Former Minister of Trade, Indonesia, today at Columbia University) and Ottmar Edenhofer (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research). The commission of 13 eminent economists from around the world has identified the range of prices on carbon needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate stabilization goal. According to the scientists, the ambition should be reaching $40-$80 per tonne of CO2 by 2020 and $50-100 per tonne by 2030.
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IPCC-chair and UN climate chief debate with Latin American ambassadors

05/18/2017 - To debate climate risks and options for action, the highest-ranking representatives of both climate science and climate policy met with ambassadors from Latin America at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact (PIK) today. Hoesung-Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), attended a conference for which PIK provided most of the scientific input. Despite the wide range of perspectives on the subject, all participants agreed that tackling climate change is a common responsibility.
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Climate stabilization: Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions

05/18/2017 - Growing plants and then storing the CO2 they have taken up from the atmosphere is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions from fossil fuel burning, a new study shows. The plantations would need to be so large, they would eliminate most natural ecosystems or reduce food production if implemented as a late-regret option in the case of substantial failure to reduce emissions. However, growing biomass soon in well-selected places with increased irrigation or fertilization could support climate policies of rapid and strong emission cuts to achieve climate stabilization below 2 degrees Celsius.
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New forecast method predicts 2017 Indian Summer Monsoon onset

05/08/2017 - Summer Monsoon in central India will likely begin between 14 and 22 June, according to the new early forecast method developed at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The novel approach based on an analysis of observational data allows to predict the monsoon onset date more than a month in advance in the central part of India where early forecasting has never been made. Elena Surovyatkina lead this study which showed to be successful last year. The monsoon onset date is of crucial importance for Indian farmers feeding a population of more than one billion. Climate change will likely affect monsoon stability and hence makes accurate forecasting even more important.
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Bright minds at PIK

05/05/2017 - As one of the leading institutions in the field of climate impact research, PIK seeks to employ the brightest minds in its workforce. Their efforts result not only in excellent scientific output and a continually growing number of peer-reviewed ISI publications, but also a large number of professorships in Germany and abroad.
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Weather extremes and trade policies were main drivers of wheat price peaks

04/28/2017 - Price peaks of wheat on the world market are mainly caused by production shocks such as induced for example by droughts, researchers found. These shocks get exacerbated by low storage levels as well as protective trade policies, the analysis of global data deriving from the US Department of Agriculture shows. In contrast to widespread assumptions, neither speculation across stock or commodity markets nor land-use for biofuel production were decisive for annual wheat price changes in the past four decades. This finding allows for better risk assessment. Soaring global crop prices in some years can contribute to local food crises, and climate change from burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases is increasing weather variability.
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Girls‘Day: Visiting climate scientists

04/27/2017 – 15 female students from Berlin and Brandenburg have visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to inform themselves about climate research and future careers in science. At this day, they gained insights into the work of the institute and learn about career opportunities with female scientists. The Girls’Day takes place every year throughout Germany and offers girls from the 5th grade up the opportunity to explore career prospects in technical and scientific branches. PIK participated for the 8th time.
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EGU Early Career Award for Ricarda Winkelmann

04/27/2017 - Ricarda Winkelmann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) was honored with the Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award by the European Geosciences Union. She received the award in the Division Cryosphere “for her innovative contributions to glaciology and the study of the interactions between climate and glaciation”. Winkelmann is Junior Professor of Climate System Analysis at Potsdam University and scientist at PIK's research domain Earth System Analysis.
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Australia and Germany exchange ideas on science and innovation

04/26/2017 - The Australian Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Arthur Sinodinos, visited Berlin this week - and on the occasion, the Australian Embassy invited high-ranking guests to a science and innovation forum. Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel and the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Hans Joachim Schellnhuber discussed key science and innovation challenges and opportunities of the coming decade.
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Global warming trend with ups and downs, but without slowdown or speed-up

04/25/2017 - Temperatures worldwide are increasing due to greenhouse-gases from fossil fuels. Past claims of a noteworthy ‘slowdown’ of the global warming trend are proven wrong by statistical analysis, a new study shows. Researchers from Germany and the US examined global-mean surface temperature trends, in the light of the three record breaking years 2014-2015-2016 in most datasets. While there of course is some natural short-term variability, the study finds no significant slowdown let alone ‘pause’ in the upward trend.
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Making the Planetary Boundaries Concept Work: Conference in Berlin

04/24/2017 - More than 400 researchers and representatives from politics, businesses and society will discuss the concept of Planetary Boundaries this week in Berlin. Environmental pressures are rapidly increasing worldwide, with mounting risks for sustainable development. To allow future generations to live in dignity and peace, humanity needs to operate within a safe operating space delineated by the Planetary Boundaries. Keynote speakers include German Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, Heinrich Bottermann, General Secretary of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) and Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
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"March for Science" - against the attack on the Enlightenment

04/19/2017 - As an "attack on the Enlightenment", the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, described the post-truth populism in a guest contribution to the leading German weekly "Zeit". In more than 500 cities worldwide, the "March for Science" - demonstrations for science - takes place on April 22nd. Schellnhuber supports the corresponding activities in Germany. Other PIK scientists are involved as well, a number of them have already articulated their stance in advance.
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Energy transition: start-up costs of power plants increase only moderately

04/05/2017 - While start-up costs of thermal power plants increase due to the energy transition, they remain on a rather low level. This is shown in a new study published in Nature Energy by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). Before power plants fueled by coal, gas or oil are able to generate electricity, they have to be started up to a minimum load level. This incurs costs related to additional fuel consumption as well as wear and tear.
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G20 policy brief on sustainable agriculture and ending hunger

03/31/2017 - In a policy brief for the G20, an expert group urges the governments of the world's leading economies to track progress on the state of food security and, based on this, to scale investment opportunities and target their interventions. Hermann Lotze-Campen, head of the research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, contributed to this report which is part of the Think Tank 20 (T20) process under Germany’s G20 presidency.
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