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Naturkundemuseum and PIK link history and future

03/08/2013 - Naturkundemuseum Berlin, Germany´s leading natural history museum, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have agreed to work closer together at a meeting in early March. When a delegation from the museum, led by its Director-General Prof. Dr. Johannes Vogel, visited PIK, a number of ideas for a closer cooperation were identified.
Naturkundemuseum and PIK link history and future

The museum’s wet collections found a new home in 2010, they are very valuable for scientific research. (Photo: Naturkundemuseum)

"Museums should not be mere repositories, but houses of the future," said Vogel. "Together with PIK we want to look into the past to gain insights for the future that are highly relevant for society. I am looking forward to this wonderful cooperation." Scientists of the two institutes, both members of the Leibniz Association, want to explore new methodical ideas in close collaboration. "The interplay of the collections of the Naturkundemuseum and PIK´s models opens new possibilities to understand complex dynamics like those of certain ecosystems much better," says Dr. Kirsten Thonicke, deputy chair of a research domain at PIK. "We would like to take that opportunity."

Whether models reliably replicate temperature gradation of past cold and warm periods can be verified through data from natural climate archives. The Berlin Naturkundemuseum hosts in its collection of 30 million objects a treasure of time series that can be used to calibrate models before making assumptions about future developments. How can the existing database be utilized to determine, for example, the impacts of land-use changes on biodiversity? In the future, questions like this will be explored jointly by scientists of the two institutes.

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