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SPECIAL: Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” state

Planet at risk of heading towards irreversible “Hothouse Earth” stateKeeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed. An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of the planet entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says. The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy. Read more...

Japanese Ambassador visits Telegraphenberg

Japanese Ambassador visits Telegraphenberg

04/14/2016 - The Japanese Ambassador to Germany, his Excellency Takeshi Yagi, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to exchange some ideas with PIK director John Schellnhuber and learn about the latest research on climate change.

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Reducing food waste could help mitigate climate change

Reducing food waste could help mitigate climate change

04/07/2016 - About a tenth of overall global greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture could be traced back to food waste by mid-century, a new study shows. A team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research for the first time provides comprehensive food loss projections for countries around the world while also calculating the associated emissions. Currently, one third of global food production never finds its way onto our plates. This share will increase drastically, if emerging countries like China and India adopt Western nutrition lifestyles, the analyses shows. Reducing food waste would offer the chance to ensure food security, which is well known. Yet at the same time it could help mitigate dangerous climate change.

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CO2 practitioners meet modelers

CO2 practitioners meet modelers

03/24/2016 - PIK scientists gathered for a one-day-conference this week to discuss limits and possibilities of CO2 fertilization both in models and observations in order to achieve the best scientific results. As special guests, they welcomed two experimentalists in the field: Bruce Kimball from the Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, who is also a longstanding companion in CO2 research, and Onno Muller from the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich as acknowledged expert in phenotyping. Their input was complemented by contributions from PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and researchers Hermann Lotze-Campen, Katja Frieler, Christoph Müller and Frank Wechsung.

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"The closed society is the antithesis of science": Potsdam research institutions on the refugee issue

"The closed society is the antithesis of science": Potsdam research institutions on the refugee issue

03/16/2016 - Potsdam's scientific institutions published an open letter for a tolerant society, rejecting all expressions of hatred, violence, and intolerance towards people on the basis of their origins, appearance, religion, or other grounds. They position themselves in the ongoing discussion about refugees in the state of Brandenburg, and in Germany.

"The closed society is the antithesis of science": Potsdam research institutions on the refugee issue - Read More…

“Alice, the Zeta Cat and Climate Change”: A fairytale about the truth

“Alice, the Zeta Cat and Climate Change”: A fairytale about the truth

03/17/2016 - On a school field trip to Potsdam’s Telegraph Hill, Alice runs after a white rabbit – and falls into a hole, sliding down the ventilation shaft of a climate research institute’s supercomputer. From here on follows a journey through the virtual world of computer models, from tropical rainforests to the ice of Antarctica. This is the rather unusual beginning of a new publication from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), in very free adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s philosophical children’s book classic “Alice in Wonderland”. More than 50 scientists provided their expertise for this work by Margret Boysen, which is being presented at this year's Leipzig Book Fair and is now available in German book shops. An English version is in planning.

“Alice, the Zeta Cat and Climate Change”: A fairytale about the truth - Read More…

Scientists and policy-makers discuss Planetary Boundaries

Scientists and policy-makers discuss Planetary Boundaries

03/04/2016 - How can humankind limit global environmental change and stay within a safe operating space for development? This question is an issue both for scientists investigating environmental guardrails as well as for policy makers looking for feasible pathways. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) together with Berlin-based science policy thinktank ”adelphi research” and the Stockholm Environment Institute brought together leading international scientists and German policymakers in a workshop to discuss opportunities and limits for an operationalization of the Planetary Boundaries framework for national governance. The role of policies for increasing resource efficiency were a key issue throughout the meeting.

Scientists and policy-makers discuss Planetary Boundaries - Read More…

Sea-level rise too big to be pumped away

Sea-level rise too big to be pumped away

03/10/2016 - Future sea-level rise is a problem probably too big to be solved even by unprecedented geo-engineering such as pumping water masses onto the Antarctic continent. The idea has been investigated by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact. While the pumped water would certainly freeze to solid ice, the weight of it would speed up the ice-flow into the ocean at the Antarctic coast. To store the water for a millenium, it would have to be pumped at least 700 kilometer inland, the team found. Overall that would require more than one tenth of the present annual global energy supply to balance the current rate of sea-level rise.

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