Professor Wolfgang Lucht

Head of Research Department
Lucht

Wolfgang Lucht is Co-Head of the Research Department on Earth System Analysis  at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and holds the Alexander von Humboldt Chair in Sustainability Science at the Department of Geography at Humboldt University Berlin. He is a member of the German Federal Government’s Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU).

A physicist turned geoecologist and sustainability scientist, Wolfgang Lucht's work addresses the changing Earth system, the future of the biosphere, the effects climate change and land use on global landscapes, the co-evolution of human societies with the Earth system, and Earth system analysis in the Anthropocene.

Wolfgang Lucht joined PIK in 1999, has previously been affiliated as an adjunct research professor with Boston University, as an associate professor with Potsdam University and currently holds the Alexander von Humboldt Chair in Sustainability Science at the Department of Geography of Humboldt University Berlin since 2009. He has been a contributing author to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports and a lead author on its Special Report on Renewable Energies. He is a Fellow of the Earth League. Clarivate Analytics ranks Wolfgang Lucht as one of the most cited research scientists worldwide.

Since 2016, he has been a member of the German Federal Government’s Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU), where he currently serves a second term.

Department

Working Group

Curriculum Vitae

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Contact

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
T +49 (0)331 288 2533
Wolfgang.Lucht[at]pik-potsdam.de
P.O. Box 60 12 03
14412 Potsdam

ORCID

Alexander von Humboldt Chair in Sustainability Science, Department of Geography, Humboldt University Berlin

Appointed Member of the Federal Government’s German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU)

Publications

Publons/ResearcherID

Wolfgang Lucht graduated from the University of Kiel with a doctoral degree in Physics in 1993. After several years as Research Associate and Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography and Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, USA, where he worked on the science for NASA’s Earth imaging sensor MODIS, he joined the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK) in 1999.

At PIK,  Wolfgang Lucht has led a Junior Research Group on Climate, Vegetation and Carbon, and PIK’s Research Domain 2 on “Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities”. Since 2012, he is the co-head of PIK’s Research Department on “Earth System Analysis”, which deals with comprehensive Earth system modelling and the coupled dynamics of geosphere, biosphere and anthroposphere under natural and human forcing.

In addition, after having previously been affiliated as an associate professor with Potsdam University, Prof. Lucht holds the Alexander von Humboldt Chair in Sustainability Science at the Department of Geography of Humboldt University Berlin. Both his teaching and research address planet Earth from a systemic, strategic and fundamental perspective, with a particular emphasis on the integrity of the biosphere, human societies as a complex, dynamically interacting component of the Earth system, and environmental criteria for sustainable development.

Education & Positions

  • 1990 - 1993:  PhD in physics, University of Kiel, Department of Extraterrestrial Physics
  • 1994 - 1998: Research Associate, then Research Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Center for Remote Sensing, Boston University, Boston, USA
  • 1999 - 2006: Research Scientist, then Research Group Leader, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • 2005 - 2009: Associate (apl) Professor of Biosphere Dynamics and Earth System Research at the Institute of Geoecology, University of Potsdam
  • 2007 - 2008: Co-Chair, Research Domain I on Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • 2008 - 2012: Co-Chair, Research Domain II on Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • since 2009: Alexander-von-Humboldt Chair in Sustainability Science, Geographical Institute, Humboldt University Berlin
  • since 2012: Co-Head, Research Domain I on Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Sustainability Science
Sustainability starts and ends within society. In the age of global change, societies have to begin to take into account the Earth as a System if the environment is not to degrade into a miserable state, and with it human livelihoods. Material and informational flows are key to understanding the sustainability challenge.

Earth System Analysis
The science required for the self-education of humankind about its interaction with the planetary systems is Earth System Analysis, trying to understand how Geosphere, Biosphere and Anthroposphere are closely interlinked now.

Biosphere Transformations
Human are transforming the biosphere. Computer modelling of biogeochemical cycles (carbon and water, to begin with) on a global scale including human land use.

Landscapes, Culture and Symbols
Achieving sustainability requires a strong sense of place-based identity constructions and new cosmologies that link cultural narratives with Earth system science and that bridge the gap between global views and regional realities.

Managing PIK Research Domain 1
To co-chair a large research group with around 50 members poses challenges of a particularly fascinating kind: science is a work of social structuring, too.

Selected Publications

Ostberg, S., L.R. Boysen, S. Schaphoff, W. Lucht, and D. Gerten, The biosphere under potential Paris outcomes, Earth's Future, 5, doi: 10.1002/2017EF000628b, 2018.

Heck, V., D. Gerten, and W. Lucht, and A. Popp, Biomass-based negative emissions difficult to reconcile with planetary boundaries, Nature Climate Change, 8, 151, 2018.

Friend, A.D., W. Lucht, T.T. Rademacher, et al., Carbon residence time dominates uncertainty in terrestrial vegetation responses to future climate and atmospheric CO2, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 111, 3280–3285, 2014.

Lucht, W., and R. K. Pachauri, The mental component of the Earth system, in: H.J. Schellnhuber, P.J. Crutzen, W.C. Clark, M. Claussen, and H. Held (eds.), Earth System Analysis for Sustainability, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 454 pp., 341-365, 2004.

Lucht, W., I.C. Prentice, R.B. Myneni, et al., Climatic control of the high-latitude vegetation  greening trend and Pinatubo effect, Science 296, 1687-1689, 2002.

All publications

Lecture/Seminar (Bachelor): Transformation: Science, politics and society
Department of Geography, Humboldt University Berlin

Lecture (Master): Climate and Earth System Dynamics - Earth as a Complex System
Department of Geography, Humboldt University Berlin

List of public and invited lectures