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Cooperation with the biggest university of the southern hemisphere

09/09/2011 - The biggest university of the southern hemisphere, the Universidade de Sao Paulo, takes part in a premiere: the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Berlin Humboldt University (HU) have founded the first ever German-Brazilian Graduate College – supported as well by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research and its division for climate research and geoecology in Macau. “Dynamic processes in complex networks” are going to be – according to the College’s name – the object of research.
Cooperation with the biggest university of the southern hemisphere

A climate network shows where there are important similarities of surface temperature development - these are indicators of possible long-distance links. Image: PIK

Such complex networks can be found within our society but also in the Earth system, the human brain or even in a laser. “The idea is to assess, for example, the interdependencies between the Amazon region and the global or the German climate,” explains Jürgen Kurths, head of the research domain ‘Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods’ at the PIK and professor at the HU. He is the German spokesperson of the Graduate College. “Our aim is to refine and then apply mathematical models - enabling us to capture similarities in all of these systems.”

This rather new approach in climate research is actively pursued at PIK. While it is generally accepted that long-distance links exist in the global climate system and impact some of the so-called tipping elements such as the Indian monsoon or the Brazilian rainforest, which rapidly change if certain threshold values are surpassed, it is not yet completely understood exactly how they function.

Initially set up for a period of four and a half years, the German and Brazilian partner institutions will each grant scholarships to 15 PhD students, five of whom will be recruited from PIK researchers. The German-Brazilian cooperation is the only international college among the 18 newly founded Graduate Colleges of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The German Research Foundation provides funding of a little more than three million Euro, derived from the Pact for Research and Innovation, initiated by the Federal Government and the German Laender.

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