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SPECIAL: What saved the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 10,000 years ago will not save it today

 Stronger evidence for a weaker Atlantic overturning
The retreat of the West Antarctic ice masses after the last Ice Age was reversed surprisingly about 10,000 years ago, scientists found. This is in stark contrast to previous assumptions. In fact, it was the shrinking itself that stopped the shrinking: relieved from the weight of the ice, the Earth crust lifted and triggered the re-advance of the ice sheet. However, this mechanism is much too slow to prevent dangerous sea-level rise caused by West Antarctica’s ice-loss in the present and near future. Only rapid greenhouse-gas emission reductions can. Read more...

Tracing observed climate impacts to greenhouse gas emissions

Tracing observed climate impacts to greenhouse gas emissions

01/28/2016 - Roughly two-thirds of observed climate change impacts related to atmospheric and ocean temperature over the past 40 years can be confidently attributed to human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, an international team of scientists found. For the impacts observed not just on regional but on continental scales, even three quarters are mainly due to our burning of burning fossil fuels. Evidence connecting changes in precipitation and their respective impacts to human influence is still weak, but is expected to grow.

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Leibniz President Kleiner visits PIK

Leibniz President Kleiner visits PIK

01/27/2016 - The president of Leibniz Association, Matthias Kleiner, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for an exchange on current projects and developments. Among other topics the focus of the meetings was also on research strategies. Kleiner met with PIK Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber as well as with the Chairs of PIK’s four research domains.

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Record warm years almost certainly due to human-made climate change

Record warm years almost certainly due to human-made climate change

01/25/2016 - Recent record warm years are with extremely high likelihood caused by human-made climate change. Without greenhouse-gas emissions from burning coal and oil, the odds are vanishingly small that 13 out of the 15 warmest years ever measured would all have happened in the current, still young century. These odds are between 1 in 5000 and 1 in 170.000, a new study by an international team of scientists now shows. Including the data for 2015, which came in after the study was completed, makes the odds even slimmer.

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New top German IPCC scientist visits PIK

New top German IPCC scientist visits PIK

2016/01/25 - The newly elected top German scientist in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Hans-Otto Pörtner, visited the Potsdam Institute (PIK) this week for an intense exchange about challenges of the next climate science assessment report. It will be the sixth of its kind and due in 2022. Pörtner, a senior biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, heads the part of the report assessing climate change impacts. This is a core research issue of PIK. What is more, for half a decade PIK’s chief economist was head of the IPCC’s working group on mitigation.

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US Ambassador discusses Paris Agreement in Potsdam

US Ambassador discusses Paris Agreement in Potsdam

01/14/2016 - The Ambassador of the United States to Germany, John B. Emerson, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) this week to discuss the consequences of the recent UN summit in Paris. Following a meeting behind closed doors with PIK director John Schellnhuber, the high-ranking guest gave a talk to researchers and students. Both the Ambassador and the PIK director highlighted the urgency of achieving further progress towards effective climate stabilization.

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Human-made climate change suppresses the next ice age

Human-made climate change suppresses the next ice age

01/13/2016 - Humanity has become a geological force that is able to suppress the beginning of the next ice age, a study now published in the renowned scientific journal Nature shows. Cracking the code of glacial inception, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found the relation of insolation and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to be the key criterion to explain the last eight glacial cycles in Earth history. At the same time their results illustrate that even moderate human interference with the planet’s natural carbon balance might postpone the next glacial inception by 100.000 years.

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Climate macroscope: new software for future research

Climate macroscope: new software for future research

12/23/2015 - Researchers have developed a new open source Python-based software package for examining climate change and other data-heavy networks on a macroscopic level.

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