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2014

Forests around the world affected by climate change

Forests around the world affected by climate change

12/19/2014 - Around the globe, forests are found to be undergoing strong changes due to human influence already today. Degradation of woods due to man-made climate change cannot be ruled out for the future, a Special Feature to be published next week in the Journal of Ecology, led by a team of scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), now shows. To understand and improve the resilience of forests, a combination of approaches from small-scale field experiments to large-scale computer simulations can help, according to the studies. Taking a risk perspective, the scientists caution that global warming puts additional pressure on some of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth.

Forests around the world affected by climate change - Read More…

Currently proposed climate policy pledges are an important step forward but fall short of 2 degrees Celsius

Currently proposed climate policy pledges are an important step forward but fall short of 2 degrees Celsius

12/15/2014 - Pledges to reduce emissions in China, Europe and the US provide an important step forward for climate change action, but a more comprehensive effort is needed to stabilize the climate below critical thresholds. Climate finance can cover investment gaps and alleviate distributional tensions, a new study shows. The study looks into several key negotiation issues on the road from the climate summit in Lima to the one in Paris 2015.

Currently proposed climate policy pledges are an important step forward but fall short of 2 degrees Celsius - Read More…

„Confronting the new normal“: World Bank launches PIK climate report

„Confronting the new normal“: World Bank launches PIK climate report

11/23/2014 - Weather extremes such as heat waves that up to now were highly unusual are likely to become the new normal, according to a report by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now launched by the World Bank. Climate Change impacts are already being felt today and will grow even if warming is limited below 2 degrees. However, with unabated warming of probably 4 degrees within our century, the consequences increase drastically. The report is the third in a series, entitled “Turn down the heat” by the World Bank – now focused on how climate impacts and social vulnerability interact, or how the poor are hit hardest in Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and East and Central Asia.

„Confronting the new normal“: World Bank launches PIK climate report - Read More…

Protecting forests alone would not halt land-use change emissions

Protecting forests alone would not halt land-use change emissions

11/17/2014 - Global forest conservation measures meant to mitigate climate change are likely to drive massive cropland expansion into shrublands or savannahs to satisfy the ever-growing hunger for arable land. The consequent changes in land use could cause substantial greenhouse gas emissions, a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change shows. In contrast to previous assumptions, conservation schemes that focus only on forests may thus fail to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from land-use change. If ecosystem protection policies aim at climate protection, they need to cover the whole range of land types, according to comprehensive computer simulations. To compensate for such restrictions on land use, intensification of agriculture to generate higher yields is important.

Protecting forests alone would not halt land-use change emissions - Read More…

Climate change: Limiting short-lived pollutants cannot buy time on CO2 mitigation

Climate change: Limiting short-lived pollutants cannot buy time on CO2 mitigation

11/04/2014 - Reducing emissions of non-CO2 gases and air pollutants with climate effects would bring health benefits and near-term climate co-benefits - but the impact on long-term climate change might be lower than previously estimated, according to a new study of the potential of air pollution and carbon dioxide mitigation in climate stabilization scenarios.

Climate change: Limiting short-lived pollutants cannot buy time on CO2 mitigation - Read More…

“Climate change mitigation doesn't cost the earth”: IPCC author Edenhofer

“Climate change mitigation doesn't cost the earth”: IPCC author Edenhofer

11/02/2014 - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) completed its Fifth Assessment Report on Sunday in Copenhagen. Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group III ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’, and one of the authors of the now released Synthesis Report, points to the contrast between the potentially irreversible impacts of unmitigated climate change and the manageable costs of ambitious mitigation.

“Climate change mitigation doesn't cost the earth”: IPCC author Edenhofer - Read More…

Natural gas boom will not slow climate change

Natural gas boom will not slow climate change

10/15/2014 - The recent natural gas boom due to the use of technologies such as fracking will not lead to a reduction of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Burning natural gas produces only half the CO2 emissions as coal per unit of energy. However, as natural gas becomes abundant and therefore cheap, it adds to the total energy supply and only partially replaces coal, a study published in the journal Nature shows. This market effect erases the advantage of lower emissions from the natural gas itself, according to an unprecedented international comparison of computer simulations.

Natural gas boom will not slow climate change - Read More…

New forecasting method: Predicting extreme floods in the Andes mountains

New forecasting method: Predicting extreme floods in the Andes mountains

10/14/2014 - Predicting floods following extreme rainfall in the central Andes is enabled by a new method. Climate change has made these events more frequent and more severe in recent decades. Now complex networks analysis of satellite weather data makes it possible to produce a robust warning system for the first time, a study to be published in the journal Nature Communications shows. This might allow for improved disaster preparedness. As the complex systems technique builds upon a mathematical comparison that can be utilised for any time series data, the approach could be applied to extreme events in all sorts of complex systems.

New forecasting method: Predicting extreme floods in the Andes mountains - Read More…

Dead ends and solutions for the climate crisis: Panel discussion with Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks

Dead ends and solutions for the climate crisis: Panel discussion with Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks

09/01/2014 – Dr. Barbara Hendricks, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Dr. Michael Otto, Chairman of the Otto Group Supervisory Board and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection, Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, President of the Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor for Climate Economics at the Technische Universität Berlin and Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute in Washington D.C. will discuss "Climate change and climate mitigation between global transformation and national challenges" in Hamburg on September 2, with topics ranging from Germany's energy transition to the European Union's emissions trading.

Dead ends and solutions for the climate crisis: Panel discussion with Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks - Read More…

Antarctica could raise sea level faster than previously thought

Antarctica could raise sea level faster than previously thought

8/14/2014 - Ice discharge from Antarctica could contribute up to 37 centimeters to the global sea level rise within this century, a new study shows. For the first time, an international team of scientists provide a comprehensive estimate on the full range of Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level rise based on physical computer simulations. Led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the study combines a whole set of state-of-the-art climate models and observational data with various ice models. The results reproduce Antarctica’s recent contribution to sea level rise as observed by satellites in the last two decades and show that the ice continent could become the largest contributor to sea level rise much sooner than previously thought.

Antarctica could raise sea level faster than previously thought - Read More…

Trapped atmospheric waves triggered more weather extremes

Trapped atmospheric waves triggered more weather extremes

08/12/2014 - Weather extremes in the summer - such as the record heat wave in the United States that hit corn farmers and worsened wildfires in 2012 - have reached an exceptional number in the last ten years. Man-made global warming can explain a gradual increase in periods of severe heat, but the observed change in the magnitude and duration of some events is not so easily explained. It has been linked to a recently discovered mechanism: the trapping of giant waves in the atmosphere. A new data analysis now shows that such wave-trapping events are indeed on the rise.

Trapped atmospheric waves triggered more weather extremes - Read More…

Capturing CO2 emissions needed to meet climate targets

Capturing CO2 emissions needed to meet climate targets

06/26/2014 - Technologies that are discussed controversially today may be needed to keep the future risks and costs of climate change in check. Combining the production of energy from fossil fuels and biomass with capturing and storing the CO2 they emit (CCS) can be key to achieving current climate policy objectives such as limiting the rise of the global mean temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. This is shown by the most comprehensive study to date on technology strategies to combat climate change, published in a special issue of the journal Climatic Change. It is based on the analysis of 18 computer models by an international team of scientists under the roof of the Stanford Energy Modelling Forum (EMF 27).

Capturing CO2 emissions needed to meet climate targets - Read More…

Connecting dead ends increases power grid stability

Connecting dead ends increases power grid stability

06/09/2014 - Climate change mitigation strategies such as the German Energiewende require linking vast numbers of new power generation facilities to the grid. As the input from many renewable sources is rather volatile, depending on how much the wind blows or the sun shines, there’s a higher risk of local power instabilities and eventually blackouts. Scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now employed a novel concept from nonlinear systems analysis called basin stability to tackle this challenge. They found that connecting dead ends can significantly increase power grid stability. The findings are confirmed by a case study of the Scandinavian power system.

Connecting dead ends increases power grid stability - Read More…

From Chaos to Order: How Ants optimize Food Search

From Chaos to Order: How Ants optimize Food Search

05/27/2014 - Ants are capable of complex problem-solving strategies that could be widely applied as optimization techniques. An individual ant searching for food walks in random ways, biologists found. Yet the collective foraging behaviour of ants goes well beyond that, as a mathematical study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals: The animal movements at a certain point change from chaos to order. This happens in a surprisingly efficient self-organized way. Understanding the ants could help analyze similar phenomena - for instance how humans roam in the internet.

From Chaos to Order: How Ants optimize Food Search - Read More…

Dangerous nitrogen pollution could be halved

Dangerous nitrogen pollution could be halved

05/13/2014 - The most important fertilizer for producing food is, at the same time, one of the most important risks for human health: nitrogen. Chemical compounds containing reactive nitrogen are major drivers of air and water pollution worldwide, and hence of diseases like asthma or cancer. If no action is taken, nitrogen pollution could rise by 20 percent by 2050 in a middle-of-the-road scenario, according to a study now published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Ambitious mitigation efforts, however, could decrease the pollution by 50 percent. The analysis is the very first to quantify this.

Dangerous nitrogen pollution could be halved - Read More…

Hotspots of climate change impacts in Africa: making sense of uncertainties

Hotspots of climate change impacts in Africa: making sense of uncertainties

05/06/2014 - Overlapping impacts of climate change such as drought or flooding, declining crop yields or ecosystem damages create hotspots of risk in specific parts of Africa. These are for the first time identified in a study now published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The uncertainties in assessing the impacts do not necessarily hamper but can inform development strategies, according to the scientists. Likelihood and potential severity of impacts can be weighed to decide on suitable adaptation measures.

Hotspots of climate change impacts in Africa: making sense of uncertainties - Read More…

Uncorking East Antarctica yields unstoppable sea-level rise

Uncorking East Antarctica yields unstoppable sea-level rise

05/05/2014 - The melting of a rather small ice volume on East Antarctica’s shore could trigger a persistent ice discharge into the ocean, resulting in unstoppable sea-level rise for thousands of years to come. This is shown in a study now published in Nature Climate Change by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). The findings are based on computer simulations of the Antarctic ice flow using improved data of the ground profile underneath the ice sheet.

Uncorking East Antarctica yields unstoppable sea-level rise - Read More…

EU could afford to lead international climate action

EU could afford to lead international climate action

03/19/2014 - This week, the heads of the EU member states will meet in Brussels to discuss the adoption of a 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030. Despite the fragmented state of global climate policy, such front runner action could reduce future global warming by more than 1 degree if it induced others to join by 2030. This is shown by a study now published by an international team of scientists. Major emitting countries may have to join the EU's effort much earlier to avoid a temporary overshoot of the 2 degree target, but even if they joined only in 2030, the overshoot would be limited to roughly 0.2 to 0.4 degrees Celsius. The initial unilateral leadership could be achieved at little extra costs for the EU. Late-comers would have the benefit of lower costs while they delay action but would face higher transient costs once their turn to decarbonize comes.

EU could afford to lead international climate action - Read More…

Global food trade can alleviate water scarcity

Global food trade can alleviate water scarcity

03/18/2014 - International trade of food crops led to freshwater savings worth 2.4 billion US-Dollars in 2005 and had a major impact on local water stress. This is shown in a new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Trading food involves the trade of virtually embedded water used for production, and the amount of that water depends heavily on the climatic conditions in the production region: It takes, for instance, 2.700 liters of water to produce 1 kilo of cereals in Morocco, while the same kilo produced in Germany uses up only 520 liters. Analyzing the impact of trade on local water scarcity, our scientists found that it is not the amount of water used that counts most, but the origin of the water. While parts of India or the Middle East alleviate their water scarcity through importing crops, some countries in Southern Europe export agricultural goods from water-scarce sites, thus increasing local water stress.

Global food trade can alleviate water scarcity - Read More…

Berlin can be climate-neutral by 2050: Feasibility Study

Berlin can be climate-neutral by 2050: Feasibility Study

03/17/2014 - Berlin can reduce its CO2 emissions from presently about 21 million tons to 4.4 million tons in 2050 – despite economic growth and population increase. This would mean a reduction of about 85 percent compared to the basis year 1990 and complies with the ambition to make Berlin a climate-neutral city. As a positive side-effect, there could be a regional economic effect of up to 138 million euro from the shift in the energy supply from fossil to mainly renewable energy sources.

Berlin can be climate-neutral by 2050: Feasibility Study - Read More…

Cultural world heritage threatened by climate change

Cultural world heritage threatened by climate change

03/05/2014 - 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.

Cultural world heritage threatened by climate change - Read More…

Inducing climate-smart global supply networks: Nature Commentary

Inducing climate-smart global supply networks: Nature Commentary

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.

Inducing climate-smart global supply networks: Nature Commentary - Read More…

EU could cut emissions by 40 percent at moderate cost

EU could cut emissions by 40 percent at moderate cost

01/16/2014 - The costs of achieving a more ambitious EU climate target are estimated to be moderate. Upscaling greenhouse-gas emissions reduction from the current 20 percent by 2020 to 40 percent by 2030 would be likely to cost less than an additional 0.7 percent of economic activity. This is a key finding from an international multi-model analysis by the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF28) and comes at a crucial time, as the European Commission is set to announce next week its plans whether to scale up its efforts on emissions reduction in the next decade. However, beyond 2040, according to the scientists the costs risk to rise substantially. Technological innovation would be needed to counter this.

EU could cut emissions by 40 percent at moderate cost - Read More…

Global food markets: Climate impacts would be more costly than bioenergy effects

Global food markets: Climate impacts would be more costly than bioenergy effects

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.

Global food markets: Climate impacts would be more costly than bioenergy effects - Read More…

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