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Projected sea-level rise may be underestimated

11/28/2012 - The rate of sea-level rise in the past decades is greater than projected by the latest assessments of the IPCC, while global temperature increases in good agreement with its best estimates. This is shown by a study now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and his colleagues compare climate projections to actual observations from 1990 up to 2011. That sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low as well, their results suggest.
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A warning system for the planet

11/16/2012 - Earth’s ecosystems provide benefits like food or drinking water that are of crucial importance for the well-being of humankind. But although accumulated assessments indicate increasing system failures threatening livelihoods and lives, so far no centralized system exists to monitor and report ecosystem status and changes. Aiming at a better understanding of the consequences of ecosystem service and biodiversity loss, a team of scientists, including Kirsten Thonicke and some of her colleagues from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), propose “A Global System for Monitoring Ecosystem Service Change” in a paper recently published in the science magazine “BioScience”.
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Potsdam hosts first World Climate Impacts Conference

11/15/2012 - The first World Climate Impacts Conference, IMPACTS WORLD 2013, will be held next year in Potsdam, Germany. "Our climate future will be largely determined by the choices we make in the next couple of decades – everything between 2°C and 10°C global warming by 2300 is possible,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research which is organising the event together with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). “Impacts science has come of age now and can finally draw the dramatic sectoral and regional pictures associated with specific increases in the Earth’s mean surface temperature”.
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Artists as chroniclers of climate

11/12/2012 - From thick snow flurry in snow-covered villages to the white rooftops of Paris – the Arp Museum in Remagen, Rhineland-Palatinate, is currently showing distinguished winter landscapes of impressionism in the exhibition “Lichtgestöber”. Scientific advisers to the exhibition are, among others, Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe und Peter C. Werner from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. In the show that will be on display until April 14th 2013 about 55 works by artists like Courbet, Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin, Pissarro, Liebermann, Slevogt or Corinth focus on winter in all its facets.
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Rise and fall of the Maya in response to climate change

11/09/2012 - The role of climate change in the development and disintegration of classic Maya civilization, ranging from AD 300 to 1000, has been controversial for decades because of the absence of well-dated climate and archaeological sequences. In an article now published in Science, an international and interdisciplinary team of scientists including Norbert Marwan from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) presents a precisely dated, high resolution regional climate record for the past 2000 years that for the first time shows how the Maya political systems developed and disintegrated in response to climate change.
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Monsoon might fail more often due to climate change

11/06/2012 - India might face more frequent monsoon failure in the future, according to a study by Jacob Schewe and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The paper published in Environmental Research Letters shows that severe failure of Indian summer monsoon rainfall is projected to become more frequent over the next 200 years under a climate change scenario.
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Greetings from Damocles: artists visit environmental scientists

10/26/2012 - The worldwide highly recognized Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson is the new Artist in Residence at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Starting in november, for several weeks he will have the opportunity for encounters with scientists – he is already the fourth artist who visits the institute through a project together with the Berlin artists program of DAAD, ÜBER LEBENSKUNST.
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Most coral reefs are at risk unless climate change is drastically limited

09/16/2012 - Coral reefs face severe challenges even if global warming is restricted to the 2 degrees Celsius commonly perceived as safe for many natural and man-made systems. Warmer sea surface temperatures are likely to trigger more frequent and more intense mass coral bleaching events. Only under a scenario with strong action on mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions and the assumption that corals can adapt at extremely rapid rates, could two thirds of them be safe, shows a study now published in Nature Climate Change. Otherwise all coral reefs are expected to be subject to severe degradation.
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“Orchestra of Change”: Schellnhuber joins board of trustees of NaturTon Foundation

10/12/2012 - The director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, becomes a member of the board of trustees of NaturTon Foundation. The charitable foundation was founded in 2009 by musicians of the Staatskapelle Berlin. Their initiative „Orchestra of Change“ combines cultural and environmental commitments. „Science can reach the minds of men, but music reaches the heart,“ PIK-director Schellnhuber says. „The writing of thousands of scientific papers cannot stimulate enough momentum, therefore it is good for science and music to work together.“
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Restricting nuclear power has little effect on the cost of climate policies

10/01/2012 - Incremental costs due to policy options restricting the use of nuclear power do not significantly increase the cost of even stringent greenhouse-gas emissions reductions. By applying a global energy-economy computer simulation that fully captures the competition between alternative power supply technologies, a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Dayton, Ohio, analyzed trade-offs between nuclear and climate policies. Strong greenhouse-gas emissions reduction to mitigate global warming shows to have much larger impact on economics than nuclear policy, according to the study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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“It pays to be a forerunner”: studies explore second-best scenarios of climate policy

09/27/2012 - Industrialized countries can profit from taking early action for climate change mitigation even if the rest of the world delays greenhouse gas emission cuts. With the 2 degrees target of limiting global warming, it pays in the long term to incentivize investments into clean energy instead of fossil fuels by adopting ambitious emission reductions. This is one of the key findings of scientists exploring the economics of decarbonization in an imperfect world, in a set of seven papers now published in a special issue of Climatic Change. They will feed into the 5th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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„Clouds, wind and weather“ is green book of the year

09/26/2012 - For its “lasting impact on ecological awareness in Germany”, PIK-scientist Stefan Rahmstorf´s children´s book “Clouds, wind and weather“ was elected green book of the year 2012 last night. The price is awarded by the German Environment Foundation and the editorial team of “Jahrbuch Ökologie”.
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From summer droughts to winter floods: climate impacts in Germany

09/26/2012 - Global climate change has local impacts from the Baltic Sea to the Alps, from Rhineland to the sands of Brandenburg. For the first time, these impacts can be shown in a comprehensive and consistent manner for the sectors they will particularly affect, including agriculture, forestry, water management and energy supply. About 170 guests from business, politics, administrations, science and associations attended the presentation of findings by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research at the Humboldt University of Berlin early this week.
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German National Academy Leopoldina debates Global Change

09/24/2012 - The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina focuses on the challenges of Global Change at their annual meeting this weekend. Three scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have been invited to give their presentations: director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber talked about global boundaries, chief-economist Ottmar Edenhofer about global climate policy and energy policy, and Stefan Rahmstorf – co-chair of the research domain Earth System Analysis – elaborated on sea-level rise and weather extremes.
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Constraining world trade is unlikely to help the climate

09/23/2012 - From rubber dinghies to television sets: the emissions of greenhouse gases in countries like China are to a significant extent caused by the production of goods that are exported to Germany or the United States. But this doesn´t necessarily mean that Western countries have relocated their emission-intensive industries and hence escape regulation for climate protection. This is shown in a study appearing in Nature Climate Change this week. Instead, researchers were able to pin down a number of factors explaining the pronounced imbalances between emission importers and exporters, the US current account deficit being one of them. Their conclusion: interventions in world trade, like CO2 tariffs, would probably have only a small impact on global emissions.
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„Record sea-ice melt a warning sign“: top German Arctic researchers

09/19/2012 - This summer’s record low of Arctic sea-ice is a warning sign, some of Germany’s leading ice researchers stated in a joint press conference in Hamburg today. Never before since the beginning of satellite observations – and very probably even since 1500 years or more – the sea-ice cover shrunk to such small area. “The record melt measured some weeks ago has thus been exceeded significantly again, leaving the 2012 record 23 percent below the previous record just five years before,” said Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
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Climate Media Factory wins environment prize

09/11/2012 - The Climate Media Factory was awarded with the environment prize “Green Tech Media Award” in the category Communication. The prize was given to the collaboration project between the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the University of Film and Television “Konrad Wolff” (HFF) for their “unique constellation of climate researchers and media professionals”. The awards ceremony at Berlin´s Tempodrom was celebrated as an environment gala with more than 1.000 exclusively invited guests from economy, science, politics, culture and media, among them German actors like Christiane Paul, Nora Tschirner or Hannes Jaenicke.
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Strategies for financing the global energy transformation

09/06/2012 - Who is paying for the transformation of our energy systems? And how can this transformation be globalized? The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WGBU) today submitted a policy paper entitled “Financing the Global Energy-System Transformation” to the Federal Minister of the Environment, Peter Altmaier. According to the paper, it needs decisive politics and a reduction of risks to enable a successful transformation of the energy systems and more energy efficiency.
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Building trust: summer school in China

Water management under conditions of climate change is the focus of a second Chinese-German summer school. Together with the National Climate Centre in Beijing, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has invited altogether 40 young scientists from both countries to debate ideas and problems. “China is an important partner for climate research. We see a lot of potential for joint projects,” says Frank Wechsung of PIK. “Mutual trust is essential here, and this is something that summer schools can help built up within the next generation of researchers.”
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Schellnhuber campaigns for Europe

08/23/2012 - Prominent German public figures take a stand for the European idea to counter growing skepticism caused by the Euro-crisis. Siding former chancellor Helmut Schmidt, the national soccer team's captain Philipp Lahm, and Daimler’s chairman Dieter Zetsche, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), is taking part in a large-scale campaign. “Europe is reducing CO2 emissions more decisively than any other continent in the world" – that is his statement to promote European unity.
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Federal Minister for the Environment discusses energy transformation with scientists

08/14/2012 - Right on the first day after his vacation, Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for the Environment, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to learn about the activities of the institute, current research and solution pathways. “Climate change is the problem, the energy transformation is the solution,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, PIK director, said during his presentation, and a lively exchange about how to achieve a restructuring of the energy system emerged.
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Climate-KIC Academy of Innovation starts

08/10/2012 - „Climate politics alone won´t be enough to mitigate global warming - we need innovations,“ said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), at the Climate-KIC founders academy kick-off in Berlin and Potsdam this week. The abbreviation stands for “Knowledge and Innovation Community“, a European network for climate innovations. PIK is a co-founder and Schellnhuber is the chair of the board of directors. About 50 potential young entrepreneurs from Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland visited PIK. “The risks of climate change are great - but so are the chances for innovative start-ups,” Schellnhuber said.
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Between intense rain events und parched earth: Climate change impacts in Germany

08/06/2012 - Climate change has implications not only in far-away regions of the world but in Germany, too. And these implications are relevant not tomorrow but already today. By the middle of this century these consequences will be amplified. What climate change impacts - which can be very different from region to region - could actually look like, is the subject of the conference “Climate Impacts in Germany”, organized by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the German federal state Brandenburg and the Humboldt University Berlin, taking place on September 24th 2012 in Berlin. For the first time, climate change impacts on a time horizon up to the year 2100 are addressed across all sectors for the different regions in Germany.
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"Qatar could become a powerful change agent"

07/18/2012 - A high-level delegation from Qatar visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to discuss future cooperation initiatives, the next climate conference in Doha (COP18) and to learn about PIK´s latest findings in the fields of climate research and sustainable solutions. One specific point of interest was the future of water management for agricultural needs.
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Geo-Engineering: Debate between "stable solutions" and "fancy fantasies"

07/16/2012 - Gigantic sun mirrors in the earth’s orbit, the vaccination of clouds or the fertilization of oceans: well-known scientists discussed the possibilities and risks of large-scale interventions in the earth system last week. The director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), John Schellnhuber, the scientific director of IASS, Marc Lawrence, Ken Caldeira from the University of Stanford in California and professor of philosophy Konrad Ott from the University of Greifswald debated the topic of “Geo-Engineering – blessing or curse?” at the Robert Bosch Foundation in Berlin.
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„The fate of renewable energies“: Edenhofer speaks at German Association of Energy and Water Industries

07/13/2012 - Three core elements of sustainable energy politics were proposed by Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in a keynote lecture in Berlin. For an audience of more than a thousand listeners at the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) congress, he explained that the key elements were a reform of the European emission trade system, a new form of support for renewable energies, and options for the integration of electricity from solar and wind power into the overall system. For the first time, he thereby framed comprehensively the institutional requirements for a success of the “Energiewende” in the long-term.
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Berlin Bishop: Climate change „touches the core of the Christian message“

07/06/2012 - The protestant church of Germany recognizes global warming as a central challenge. “The climate problem touches the core of the Christian message”, said Bishop Markus Dröge, head of the Protestant Church Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz on the occasion of a visit at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Preserving the integrity of creation is our mission.” It is all the more painful, he pointed out, that some of the successes of the development work achieved in the poorest countries of the world are being thwarted by climate change impacts.
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No beach holiday: climate researchers meet up-and-coming scientists at summer school in Potsdam

07/06/2012 - Some of the world’s spearheading climate scientists will convene in Potsdam to contribute their knowledge to young, international up-and-coming researchers and practitioners beginning on July 8th. Over the following two weeks, instead of heading to the beaches they will focus on confronting the risks of climate warming in the face of uncertainties and extreme events. This is the “Global Sustainability Summer School 2012” (GSSS), an intensive professional development course for specialists, organized jointly between the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in New Mexico. The GSSS is made possible by the generous support of the Robert Bosch Foundation.
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„Truths and values“: Schellnhuber awarded with the honorary doctorate of TU Berlin

06/29/2012 - For his outstanding achievements in the field of climate research and political consulting, the Technische Universität Berlin awarded Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the honorary doctorate this week. “Professor Schellnhuber inspired entirely new approaches in research, like the research of the world climate’s tipping points and its consequences, or the action-orientated 2 degrees target”, said TU president Jörg Steinbach during the ceremony which was attended by 200 guests in the university’s atrium.
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EU-Commissioner Oettinger visits PIK

06/26/2012 - Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for an exchange of ideas this week. Three presentations provided information on current research on climate change as well as scientific findings on chances and risks of the transformation of the energy system. Oettinger was impressed by the “profound and objective presentation”. He invited PIK-scientists to Brussels for expert discussions “to maintain the conversational thread”.
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