Professor Stefan Rahmstorf

Head of Department


Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
T +49 (0)331 288 2688
P.O. Box 60 12 03
14412 Potsdam


After studying physics at the Universities of Ulm and Konstanz and physical oceanography at the University of Wales (Bangor) Stefan Rahmstorf completed a thesis on general relativity theory. He then moved to New Zealand and obtained his PhD in oceanography at Victoria University of Wellington in 1990. His PhD work included a number of research cruises in the South Pacific

After this he worked as a scientist at the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute, at the Institute of Marine Science in Kiel and since 1996 at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. His work there focuses on the role of the oceans in climate change. 

In 1999 Rahmstorf was awarded the $ 1 million Centennial Fellowship Award of the US-based James S. McDonnell foundation. Since 2000 he teaches Physics of the Oceans as a professor at Potsdam University. Rahmstorf is a member of the Academia Europaea and served from 2004-2013 in the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). He was also one of the lead authors of the 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC. In 2007 he became an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales and in 2010 a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. In 2017 he was the first scientist outside the US to be awarded the Climate Communication Prize of the American Geophysical Union.

He has published over 120 scientific papers (over 30 of which in the leading Nature and Science journals and PNAS) and co-authored four books. Available in English is Our Threatened Oceans (2009, with Katherine Richardson) and The Climate Crisis (2010, with David Archer).

Main research areas: ocean circulation, sea level, paleoclimate, extreme weather events and Earth system modeling.

Selected Publications (find the entire list on my complete Homepage)

Caesar, L., S. Rahmstorf, A. Robinson, G. Feulner and V. Saba (2018). Observed fingerprint of a weakening Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation. Nature 556: 191–196.

Mann, M. E., S. Rahmstorf, K. Kornhuber, B. A. Steinman, S. K. Miller, S. Petri and D. Coumou (2018). Projected changes in persistent extreme summer weather events: The role of quasi-resonant amplification. Science Advances 4(10): eaat3272.

Rahmstorf, S. and D. Coumou, 2011: Increase of extreme events in a warming world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA, 5pp. doi:10.1073/pnas.1101766108.

Rahmstorf, S., 2007: A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science, 315, 368-370.

Rahmstorf, S., 2002: Ocean circulation and climate during the past 120,000 years. Nature 419, 207-214.

Ocean Circulation Theory and Climate in Earth History courses at Potsdam University since 2000

  • Climate Communication Prize of the American Geophysical Union
  • Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
  • Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales / Bangor
  • McDonnell Foundation Centennial Fellowship Award
  • Royal Society Young Scientists Award
  • Studienstiftung Doctoral Fellowship for PhD studies in New Zealand