Niklas Kitzmann

Doctoral Researcher

Since October 2019, I have been working with Dr. Jonathan Donges and Prof. Dr. Ricarda Winkelmann on a contagion- and network based understanding of Social Tipping processes. Under the working title Social tipping dynamics for climate change mitigation and sustainability, my PhD project is aimed at combining insights from complex contagion, collective behavior, and social transformation research, and implementing both data- and simulation-based methods.

My PhD project is funded and organized in the context of the interdisciplinary Young Academy of Geo.X, the geoscientific competence network in Berlin and Potsdam. At PIK, my work is embedded within the COPAN collaboration's research on the coevolution of natural and socio-economic subsystems of the Earth system in the Anthropocene. I am also a member of the PIK FutureLab - Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene, and the RD1 working group Whole Earth System Analysis.


Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
T +49 (0)331 288 2669
P.O. Box 60 12 03
14412 Potsdam


  • Social Tipping Points relevant for decarbonization and other sustainability transformations
  • (Social) contagion and spreading processes on complex networks
  • The role of urban systems in safeguarding the Planetary Boundaries
  • Explainable AI methods for data analysis

"10 Must Haves" for a just, sustainable future:

Schlosser, P., Rockström, J., Edwards, C., Mirazo, P., Heilemann, A., Kitzmann, N.H., Krobjinski, S. L.:
"Accelerating transformations for a just, sustainable future: 10 ‘Must Haves’"
Global Sustainability 6, e17 (2023).

Detection of (urban innovation) contagion:

Niklas H. Kitzmann, Pawel Romanczuk, Nico Wunderling and Jonathan F. Donges:
"Detecting contagious spreading of urban innovations on the global city network"
European Physical Journal - Special Topics 231, 1609–1624 (2022). (2021)

Jonathan F. Donges*, Jakob H. Lochner*, Niklas H. Kitzmann, Jobst Heitzig, Sune Lehmann, Marc Wiedermann and Jürgen Vollmer:
"Dose–response functions and surrogate models for exploring social contagion in the Copenhagen Networks Study"
European Physical Journal - Special Topics 230, 3311–3334 (2021).
* The first two authors share the lead authorship

Machine learning methods for non-linear data analysis:

William J. Foster, Bethany J. Allen, Niklas H. Kitzmann, Jannes Münchmeyer, Tabea Rettelbach, James D. Witts, Rowan J. Whittle, Ekaterina Larina, Matthew E. Clapham and Alexander M. Dunhill
"How predictable are mass extinction events?"
Royal Society  Open Science 10: 221507 (2023)

William J. Foster, Georgy Ayzel, Jannes Münchmeyer, Tabea Rettelbach, Niklas H. Kitzmann, Terry T. Isson, Maria Mutti and Martin Aberhan
"Machine learning identifies ecological selectivity patterns across the end-Permian mass extinction"
Paleobiology 48(3), 357-371 (2022).