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2012

Why early Earth was no snowball: Illuminating the ”faint young Sun paradox”

Why early Earth was no snowball: Illuminating the ”faint young Sun paradox”

12/17/2012 - In the early history of planet Earth, the Sun was up to 25 per cent less luminous than today. Yet there is strong evidence that the Earth’s oceanic surface was not completely frozen. High concentrations of warming greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) seem to be the most obvious solution to this famous “faint young Sun paradox”. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) analyzed in computer simulations how much CO2 in the atmosphere was necessary to prevent the early Earth from falling into a “snowball state”. They found the critical amount to be significantly higher than previously assumed, according to their study now published in Geophysical Research Letters. This sheds light on the environment on early Earth during a time when life first appeared on our planet.

Why early Earth was no snowball: Illuminating the ”faint young Sun paradox” - Read More…

More ice loss through snowfall on Antarctica

More ice loss through snowfall on Antarctica

12/12/2012 - Stronger snowfall increases future ice discharge from Antarctica. Global warming leads to more precipitation as warmer air holds more moisture – hence earlier research suggested the Antarctic ice sheet might grow under climate change. Now a study published in Nature shows that a lot of the ice gain due to increased snowfall is countered by an acceleration of ice-flow to the ocean. Thus Antarctica’s contribution to global sea-level rise is probably greater than hitherto estimated, the team of authors from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) concludes.

More ice loss through snowfall on Antarctica - Read More…

„Promoting evidence-based decision-making“: Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute

„Promoting evidence-based decision-making“: Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute

05.12.2012 - Qatar Foundation in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) announced the creation of a pioneering climate change research institute. It will be the first of its kind “in a country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels,” PIK’s director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said. “Qatar declares to confront the climate challenge, and to do so by promoting research and evidence-based decision-making. This might be a turning point for a transition towards sustainability.” The science is clear, Schellnhuber said, that global greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption “have to decrease sharply by 2020 if we want to avoid dangerous climate change”.

„Promoting evidence-based decision-making“: Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute - Read More…

„Green Growth“– Fairytale or Strategy? Climate Lecture 2012 at TU Berlin

„Green Growth“– Fairytale or Strategy? Climate Lecture 2012 at TU Berlin

12/03/2012 - Economic growth does not only lead to rising turnovers and incomes but also increases greenhouse-gas emissions. Can “Green Growth” be a way out of this dilemma? Is it “a fairytale or a strategy”? Right now, issues like this are being debated at the international climate summit in Doha. Two scientists explored solution paths at the Climate Lecture at Technische Universität Berlin this Monday in front of 1000 guests – British growth critic Professor Tim Jackson and the chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor at TU Berlin, Ottmar Edenhofer.

„Green Growth“– Fairytale or Strategy? Climate Lecture 2012 at TU Berlin - Read More…

Projected sea-level rise may be underestimated

Projected sea-level rise may be underestimated

11/28/2012 - The rate of sea-level rise in the past decades is greater than projected by the latest assessments of the IPCC, while global temperature increases in good agreement with its best estimates. This is shown by a study now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and his colleagues compare climate projections to actual observations from 1990 up to 2011. That sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low as well, their results suggest.

Projected sea-level rise may be underestimated - Read More…

4-degrees briefing for the World Bank: The risks of a future without climate policy

4-degrees briefing for the World Bank: The risks of a future without climate policy

11/19/2012 - Humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases are breaking new records every year. Hence we’re on a path towards 4-degree global warming probably as soon as by the end of this century. This would mean a world of risks beyond the experience of our civilization – including heat waves, especially in the tropics, a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, and regional yield failures impacting global food security. These are some of the results of a report for the World Bank, conducted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics in Berlin. The poorest in the world are those that will be hit hardest, making development without climate policy almost impossible, the researchers conclude.

4-degrees briefing for the World Bank: The risks of a future without climate policy - Read More…

Restricting nuclear power has little effect on the cost of climate policies

Restricting nuclear power has little effect on the cost of climate policies

10/01/2012 - Incremental costs due to policy options restricting the use of nuclear power do not significantly increase the cost of even stringent greenhouse-gas emissions reductions. By applying a global energy-economy computer simulation that fully captures the competition between alternative power supply technologies, a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Dayton, Ohio, analyzed trade-offs between nuclear and climate policies. Strong greenhouse-gas emissions reduction to mitigate global warming shows to have much larger impact on economics than nuclear policy, according to the study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Restricting nuclear power has little effect on the cost of climate policies - Read More…

“It pays to be a forerunner”: studies explore second-best scenarios of climate policy

“It pays to be a forerunner”: studies explore second-best scenarios of climate policy

09/27/2012 - Industrialized countries can profit from taking early action for climate change mitigation even if the rest of the world delays greenhouse gas emission cuts. With the 2 degrees target of limiting global warming, it pays in the long term to incentivize investments into clean energy instead of fossil fuels by adopting ambitious emission reductions. This is one of the key findings of scientists exploring the economics of decarbonization in an imperfect world, in a set of seven papers now published in a special issue of Climatic Change. They will feed into the 5th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“It pays to be a forerunner”: studies explore second-best scenarios of climate policy - Read More…

Constraining world trade is unlikely to help the climate

Constraining world trade is unlikely to help the climate

09/23/2012 - From rubber dinghies to television sets: the emissions of greenhouse gases in countries like China are to a significant extent caused by the production of goods that are exported to Germany or the United States. But this doesn´t necessarily mean that Western countries have relocated their emission-intensive industries and hence escape regulation for climate protection. This is shown in a study appearing in Nature Climate Change this week. Instead, researchers were able to pin down a number of factors explaining the pronounced imbalances between emission importers and exporters, the US current account deficit being one of them. Their conclusion: interventions in world trade, like CO2 tariffs, would probably have only a small impact on global emissions.

Constraining world trade is unlikely to help the climate - Read More…

Most coral reefs are at risk unless climate change is drastically limited

Most coral reefs are at risk unless climate change is drastically limited

09/16/2012 - Coral reefs face severe challenges even if global warming is restricted to the 2 degrees Celsius commonly perceived as safe for many natural and man-made systems. Warmer sea surface temperatures are likely to trigger more frequent and more intense mass coral bleaching events. Only under a scenario with strong action on mitigating greenhouse-gas emissions and the assumption that corals can adapt at extremely rapid rates, could two thirds of them be safe, shows a study now published in Nature Climate Change. Otherwise all coral reefs are expected to be subject to severe degradation.

Most coral reefs are at risk unless climate change is drastically limited - Read More…

No beach holiday: climate researchers meet up-and-coming scientists at summer school in Potsdam

No beach holiday: climate researchers meet up-and-coming scientists at summer school in Potsdam

07/06/2012 - Some of the world’s spearheading climate scientists will convene in Potsdam to contribute their knowledge to young, international up-and-coming researchers and practitioners beginning on July 8th. Over the following two weeks, instead of heading to the beaches they will focus on confronting the risks of climate warming in the face of uncertainties and extreme events. This is the “Global Sustainability Summer School 2012” (GSSS), an intensive professional development course for specialists, organized jointly between the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in New Mexico. The GSSS is made possible by the generous support of the Robert Bosch Foundation.

No beach holiday: climate researchers meet up-and-coming scientists at summer school in Potsdam - Read More…

Significant sea-level rise in a 2-degree warming world

Significant sea-level rise in a 2-degree warming world

06/24/2012 - Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several metres in coming centuries, if global warming carries on. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, global-mean sea level could continue to rise, reaching between 1.5 and 4 metres above present-day levels by the year 2300, with the best estimate being at 2.7 metres, according to a study just published in Nature Climate Change. However, emissions reductions that allow warming to drop below 1.5 degrees Celsius could limit the rise strongly.

Significant sea-level rise in a 2-degree warming world - Read More…

“A house for the 21th century“: To celebrate its 20th anniversary, PIK is laying the foundation stone for a new research building

“A house for the 21th century“: To celebrate its 20th anniversary, PIK is laying the foundation stone for a new research building

06/20/2012 - Climate research in Potsdam will get a new home. Adjacent to the historic main buildings of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) dating from the 19th century, a new energy-optimized building will come into existence. The laying of the foundation stone for this exceptional new research building also marks PIK’s 20th anniversary. Representatives of science and politics congratulated the institute, underlining that it has become one of the world’s leading climate research centres.

“A house for the 21th century“: To celebrate its 20th anniversary, PIK is laying the foundation stone for a new research building - Read More…

Rio+20: Climate protection and poverty reduction both depend on a new global treaty

Rio+20: Climate protection and poverty reduction both depend on a new global treaty

06/05/2012 - The Rio+20 summit could help pave the way towards a new global accord that links the crucial issues of climate protection and prosperity. “If the world wants to mitigate dangerous climate change, the discussions in Rio have to go beyond the very broad sustainability issue and the very narrow green growth notion,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), who is going to attend the summit. Scientists of PIK and the Institute for Social and Development Studies (IGP), together with the organization for development cooperation Misereor and the Munich Re Foundation, point out key options for linking climate and development policy in a new book now published. It provides scientific input for the runup to Rio+20 and provides pathways to solve the climate change challenge in a fair way.

Rio+20: Climate protection and poverty reduction both depend on a new global treaty - Read More…

Weather records due to climate change: a game with loaded dice

Weather records due to climate change: a game with loaded dice

03/25/2012 - The past decade has been one of unprecedented weather extremes. Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany argue that the high incidence of extremes is not merely accidental. From the many single events a pattern emerges. At least for extreme rainfall and heat waves the link with human-caused global warming is clear, the scientists show in a new analysis of scientific evidence in the journal Nature Climate Change. Less clear is the link between warming and storms, despite the observed increase in the intensity of hurricanes.

Weather records due to climate change: a game with loaded dice - Read More…

Greenland ice sheet may melt completely with 1.6 degrees global warming

Greenland ice sheet may melt completely with 1.6 degrees global warming

03/11/2012 - The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be more vulnerable to global warming than previously thought. The temperature threshold for melting the ice sheet completely is in the range of 0.8 to 3.2 degrees Celsius global warming, with a best estimate of 1.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels, shows a new study by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Today, already 0.8 degrees global warming has been observed. Substantial melting of land ice could contribute to long-term sea-level rise of several meters and therefore it potentially affects the lives of many millions of people.

Greenland ice sheet may melt completely with 1.6 degrees global warming - Read More…

Climate risks of bioenergy underestimated

Climate risks of bioenergy underestimated

03/08/2012 - Energy from biomass presents underappreciated risks, new research published in Nature Climate Change shows. “A precautionary approach is needed,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and professor at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). “Before further expanding bioenergy, science has to deliver a more comprehensive risk assessment to policy makers – dealing with the uncertainties inherent to projections of bioenergy use up to now. Novel kinds of risk management for land-use change are needed.” One option would be to shift the burden-of-proof of meeting sustainability standards to the bioenergy producers.

Climate risks of bioenergy underestimated - Read More…

Half a billion for climate innovation - EU Commissioners visiting Climate-KIC

Half a billion for climate innovation - EU Commissioners visiting Climate-KIC

02/23/2012 - Today two European Commissioners are in Berlin for talks with the European Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC). In only three years, Climate-KIC and its partners will invest around half a billion Euros in European climate innovation. Through this effort, science and business are working to turn research into products and services faster than ever before. Together, they want to turn the corner on climate change and pave the way to an industrial revolution towards sustainability. Climate-KIC funding addresses, for instance, start-ups in the sector of electric mobility. After its founding in 2010, the partner network’s activities are gaining momentum.

Half a billion for climate innovation - EU Commissioners visiting Climate-KIC - Read More…

Quantifying climate impacts: new comprehensive model comparison launched

Quantifying climate impacts: new comprehensive model comparison launched

02/07/2012 - Climate change has impacts on forests, fields, rivers – and thereby on humans that breathe, eat and drink. To assess these impacts more accurately, a comprehensive comparison of computer-based simulations from all over the world will start this week. For the first time, sectors ranging from ecosystems to agriculture to water supplies and health will be scrutinized in a common framework. The models will be provided by more than two dozen research groups from the United States, China, Germany, Austria, Kenya, and the Netherlands, among others. The scientists will investigate which results are robust, where there are uncertainties and why. The project will be coordinated by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

Quantifying climate impacts: new comprehensive model comparison launched - Read More…

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