Press Release

Indian monsoon can be predicted better after volcanic eruptions

09/18/2020 - Large volcanic eruptions can help to forecast the monsoon over India – the seasonal rainfall that is key for the country’s agriculture and thus for feeding one billion people. As erratic as they are, volcanic eruptions improve the predictability, an Indian-German research team finds. What seems to be a paradox is in fact due to a stronger coupling between the monsoon over large parts of South and South-East Asia and the El Niño phenomenon after an eruption. Combining data from meteorological observations, climate records, computer model simulations, and geological archives such as tree-rings, corals and ice-cores from past millennia of Earth history, the researchers found that a synchronization of the monsoon with the strongest mode of natural climate variability, the El Niño, makes it easier to anticipate the strength of seasonal rainfall in the Indian subcontinent.
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Novel network analysis confirms: #stayathome helps limit virus mutations

16/04/2020 – Both the virus diseases of the 2013 Ebola regional epidemic and the current COVID-19 global pandemic have seen virus mutations between hosts – a normal phenomenon with the potential to turn viruses even more harmful. A team of scientists including researchers from Humboldt University and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has now employed advanced mathematical models to explore these dynamics. Their findings confirm public health responses like suspending long-haul travel, but also the call to stay at home. Further, they underline the importance of closely tracking genetic mutations during virus outbreaks to facilitate crisis response.
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Identifiying crises through network connections: Nature Physics publication

27/02/2020 - From a Wuhan market to Europe and the US: A chain of infection enabled the spread of coronavirus. Trade and travel played the deciding role. Events that have been locally confined in the past are today damaging the global economy. When local networks become internationally connected, scientists call this percolation. An international team of researchers now developed a mathematical approach to better predict when percolation arises and disappears. Their findings have been published in the highly renowned journal Nature Physics this month.
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Artificial Intelligence: applying ‚Deep Reinforcement Learning‘ for sustainable development

20/12/2019 - For the first time, a specific way of machine learning has been used to find novel pathways for sustainable development. So far, the so-called 'Deep Reinforcement Learning' has mostly been used to make computers excel in certain games, such as AlphaGo, or navigate robots through rough terrain. Now, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research developed a mathematical framework combining recently developed machine learning techniques with more classical analysis of trajectories in computer simulations of the global climate system and the global economy. The results, published in the interdisciplinary journal on nonlinear phenomena 'Chaos', are promising.
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Leibniz PhD Award for Catrin Ciemer

02.12.2019 - Physicist Catrin Ciemer has been awarded the Leibniz Doctoral Prize for her outstanding doctoral thesis. The prize is awarded annually for the best doctoral theses from Leibniz Institutes in the categories humanities and social sciences as well as natural and technical sciences. The award-winning theses must be distinguished not only by an outstanding evaluation but also by their interdisciplinary significance, application relevance and publication in scientific journals or presentations at scientific conferences. This year's prizewinners were selected from almost 900 doctoral theses completed at Leibniz Institutes in 2018.
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Postdoc Award of the State of Brandenburg for Niklas Boers

02.12.2019 - Niklas Boers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has been awarded the Postdoc Prize of the State of Brandenburg. The prize is awarded by the state of Brandenburg in recognition of excellent research achievements by outstanding young scientists from universities and non-university research institutions.
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Early warning: Physicists from Giessen, Potsdam and Tel Aviv forecast "El Niño" for 2020

04/11/2019 -The serious weather phenomenon "El Niño" could soon occur again in the Pacific region. Researchers at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, find that there will probably be another "El Niño" by the end of 2020. The prediction models commonly used do not yet see any signs of this.
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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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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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Rainfall extremes are connected across continents: Nature study

31.01.2019 - Extreme rainfall events in one city or region are connected to the same kind of events thousands of kilometers away, an international team of experts finds in a study now published in one of the world’s leading scientific journals, Nature. They discovered a global connection pattern of extreme rainfall – this could eventually improve weather forecasts and hence help to limit damages and protect people. Extreme rainfall events are on the rise due to human-caused climate change, which makes the study even more relevant. The researchers developed a new method rooted in complex systems science to analyze satellite data. The revealed extreme rainfall patterns are likely linked to giant airflows known as jetstreams that circle the globe high up in the atmosphere, forming huge waves between the Equator and the Poles.
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