From the Statue of Liberty in New York to the Tower of London or the Sydney Opera House – sea-level rise not only affects settlement areas for large parts of the world population but also numerous sites of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is shown in a new study by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
06/02/2014 - Extreme weather events like super-typhoon Haiyan and hurricane Sandy can have major negative impacts on the world economy. So far, however, the effects on global production and consumption webs are missing from most assessments. This is a serious deficit, argues Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: “World markets as well as local economies are highly interlinked and rely on global supply chains – adaptation therefore requires a global perspective, not just a local one.” In a Nature Commentary he proposes a community effort to collect economic data on the new website zeean.net. The aim is to better understand economic flows and to thereby induce a transformation of our supply chains into a stable, climate-smart network that renders our societies less vulnerable to future climate impacts.
01/15/2014 - Ambitious greenhouse-gas mitigation consistent with the 2 degrees target is likely to require substantial amounts of bioenergy as part of the future energy mix. Though this does not come without risks, global food markets would be affected much more by unmitigated climate change than by an increased bioenergy demand, a study led by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now finds. Agricultural prices could be about 25 percent higher in 2050 through direct climate impacts on crop yields in comparison to a reference scenario without climate change. By way of contrast, a high bioenergy demand as part of a scenario with ambitious mitigation appears to raise prices only about 5 percent.
12/16/2013 - Water scarcity impacts people’s lives in many countries already today. Future population growth will increase the demand for freshwater even further. Yet in addition to this, on the supply side, water resources will be affected by projected changes in rainfall and evaporation. Climate change due to unabated greenhouse-gas emissions within our century is likely to put 40 percent more people at risk of absolute water scarcity than would be without climate change, a new study shows by using an unprecedented number of impact models. The analysis is to be published in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that assembles first results of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), a unique community-driven effort to bring research on climate change impacts to a new level.
12/16/2013 - A pioneering collaboration within the international scientific community has provided comprehensive projections of climate change effects, ranging from water scarcity to risks to crop yields. This interdisciplinary effort, employing extensive model inter-comparisons, allows research gaps to be identified, whilst producing the most robust possible findings. The results provide crucial insights for decision-making regarding mitigation efforts in the face of potential impact cascades. The analyses are to be published in a special feature of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that assembles the first results of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), which aims at bringing research on climate impacts onto a new level.
12/10/2013 - For his pioneering research on complex networks in our climate system a young scientist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) received a prestigious prize. He was awarded by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) at a meeting in San Francisco attended by more than 22,000 earth and space scientists this week. By applying mathematical analysis to, for instance, data from drills in the deep-sea, he detected how shifts in African climate some million years ago influenced the fate of modern man’s ancestors.
11/22/2013 - Sea-level rise in this century is likely to be 70-120 centimeters by 2100 if greenhouse-gas emissions are not mitigated, a broad assessment of the most active scientific publishers on that topic has revealed. The 90 experts participating in the survey anticipate a median sea-level rise of 200-300 centimeters by the year 2300 for a scenario with unmitigated emissions. In contrast, for a scenario with strong emissions reductions, experts expect a sea-level rise of 40-60 centimeters by 2100 and 60-100 centimeters by 2300. The survey was conducted by a team of scientists from the USA and Germany.
11/15/2013 - Achieving a global climate agreement soon could be crucial for the objective to keep global mean temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. The challenges of meeting the long-term target will otherwise increase drastically both in terms of the required emissions reductions and economic impacts. This is shown by the first comprehensive multi-model-based assessment of so-called Durban Platform scenarios, conducted by a team of international scientists led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) in Italy. The Durban Platform is the current negotiation track at the Warsaw climate talks that aims to reach a global climate agreement by 2015 to come into effect in 2020.
11/05/2013 - Revenues from global carbon emission pricing could exceed the losses fossil fuel owners suffer from this policy. Stabilizing global warming at around 2 degrees Celsius by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels would mean to leave much of coal, gas and oil unused underground. Yet the instrument of pricing global CO2 emissions could generate a revenue of 32 trillion US dollars over the 21st century, exceeding by far the 12 trillion US dollars reduction of fossil fuel owners’ profits, according to a study now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The analysis of the interference of CO2 emission pricing with fossil fuel markets adds key information to the debate on macro-economic effects of climate change mitigation.
10/08/2013 - Both freshwater availability for many millions of people and the stability of ecosystems such as the Siberian tundra or Indian grasslands are put at risk by climate change. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, 500 million people could be subject to increased water scarcity – while this number would grow by a further 50 percent if greenhouse-gas emissions are not cut soon. At 5 degrees global warming almost all ice-free land might be affected by ecosystem change. This is shown by complementary studies now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
12/09/2013 - Further delay in the implementation of comprehensive international climate policies could substantially increase the short-term costs of climate change mitigation. Global economic growth would be cut back by up to 7 percent within the first decade after climate policy implementation if the current international stalemate is continued until 2030 -- compared to 2 percent if a climate agreement is reached by 2015 already, a study by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) shows. Higher costs would in turn increase the threshold for decision-makers to start the transition to a low-carbon economy. Thus, to keep climate targets within reach it seems to be most relevant to not further postpone mitigation, the researchers conclude.
08/15/2013 - Extremes such as the severe heat wave last year in the US or the one 2010 in Russia are likely to be seen much more often in the near future. A few decades ago, they were practically absent. Today, due to man-made climate change monthly heat extremes in summer are already observed on 5 percent of the land area. This is projected to double by 2020 and quadruple by 2040, according to a study by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). A further increase of heat extremes in the second half of our century could be stopped if global greenhouse-gas emissions would be reduced substantially.
07/17/2013 - Ottmar Edenhofer, Deputy Director and Chief Economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), is co-chairing a new Energy Platform by the European Council of Academies of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering (Euro-CASE), an non-profit organisation of national academies from 21 European countries. Bringing together the combined expertise of the academies, the Euro-CASE Energy Platform will provide independent science based policy advice with a focus on a European perspective for policymakers like the Directorate-General for Climate Action which implements the EU Emissions Trading System or the EU Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger.
07/15/2013 - Greenhouse gases emitted today will cause sea level to rise for centuries to come. Each degree of global warming is likely to raise sea level by more than 2 meters in the future, a study now published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows. While thermal expansion of the ocean and melting mountain glaciers are the most important factors causing sea-level change today, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will be the dominant contributors within the next two millennia, according to the findings. Half of that rise might come from ice-loss in Antarctica which is currently contributing less than 10 percent to global sea-level rise.
07/02/13 - Irregular warming of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, dubbed El Niño by Peruvian fishermen, can generate devastating impacts. Being the most important phenomenon of contemporary natural climate variability, it may trigger floods in Latin America, droughts in Australia, and harvest failures in India. In order to extend forecasting from 6 months to one year or even more, scientists have now proposed a novel approach based on advanced connectivity analysis applied to the climate system. The scheme builds on high-quality data of air temperatures and clearly outperforms existing methods. The study will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
07/02/2013 - One out of ten people on Earth is likely to live in a climate impact hotspot by the end of this century, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. Many more are put at risk in a worst-case scenario of the combined impacts on crop yields, water availability, ecosystems, and health, according to a study now published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It identifies the Amazon region, the Mediterranean and East Africa as regions that might experience severe change in multiple sectors. The article is part of the outcome of the Intersectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP) that will be featured in a special issue of PNAS later this year.
07/01/2013 - What do the cities of the future look like? What role do they play for global climate change? What influence does the German energy transformation have worldwide? These questions are in the centre of the 2nd Global Sustainability Summer School on “COMPLEX(C)ITY – Urbanization and energy transition in a changing climate“ taking place from 1 to 12 July, sponsored by the Robert Bosch Foundation and jointly organised by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). Junior scientists, well-known climate researchers and experts for urban development from all over the world – from Brazil to India, from Ghana to Mongolia –will meet in Potsdam for this purpose.
06/20/2013 - Day-to-day rainfall in India might become much more variable due to climate change – potentially putting millions of poor farmers and the country’s agricultural productivity at risk. The Indian monsoon is a complex system which is likely to change under future global warming. While it is in the very nature of weather to vary, the question is how much and whether we can deal with it. Extreme rainfall, for example, bears the risk of flooding, and crop failure. Computer simulations with a comprehensive set of 20 state-of-the-art climate models now consistently show that Indian monsoon daily variability might increase, according to a study just published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
05/30/2013 - Researchers identified a number of hotspots both of global climate change impacts and the science that deals with them. New analyses presented at the Impacts World 2013 Conference this week in Potsdam, Germany, revealed that the Amazon region, east Africa and the Mediterranean will experience serious change if greenhouse-gas emissions continue unabated. More than 300 scientists and stakeholders from 40 countries spent four days discussing the path forward for research on the impacts of climate change – one key outcome is the joining of forces between impacts researchers with economists to assess possible future loss and damage.
05/27/2013 - Droughts, floods, crop failures, invading species and diseases – climate change impacts of today and tomorrow come with a raft of buzz words. But the science behind our understanding of the potential consequences of global warming is both much broader and much more fragmented.
From Potsdam to Pakistan: Confronting vulnerability by building national climate research capacities
05/24/2013 - Pakistan is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change – risks range from the disastrous 2010 floodings that acted as a wake-up call to retreating glaciers impacting freshwater supply. To confront this challenge, the new Centre for Climate Research & Development (CCRD) took up its work this month – a substantial effort to build up indigenous scientific capacities in a place where substantial climate change impacts are actually happening. The centre has been developed in very close cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). A five-year-agreement envisages joint research projects and the exchange of scientists.