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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...

Edenhofer: A price for CO2 instead of emission targets at the World Climate Summit?

Edenhofer: A price for CO2 instead of emission targets at the World Climate Summit?

10.11.2015 - A global price target for CO2 might be a more sensible objective for the COP21 Climate Conference instead of the currently discussed emission volume targets. This is what Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, is stating together with the renowned economic researcher Axel Ockenfels from Cologne, in a major guest article in the influential German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung only weeks before the much awaited UN climate conference in Paris. Such a price could provide incentives to invest in alternative technologies and to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Edenhofer: A price for CO2 instead of emission targets at the World Climate Summit? - Read More…

Climate change may affect global food costs - and vulnerability to hunger

Climate change may affect global food costs - and vulnerability to hunger

11/09/2015 - Unabated man-made climate change would likely increase the risk of hunger through rising food costs, a paper by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact (PIK) shows. The findings contribute to a major World Bank Report now published. The Potsdam paper investigates three key regions vulnerable to hunger – Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa – and shows that each region faces severe problems already by 2030, but that the structure of the problems strongly differs. The risks substantially increase over time if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to the computer simulations.

Climate change may affect global food costs - and vulnerability to hunger - Read More…

Global food demand scenarios for the 21st century: new online tool

Global food demand scenarios for the 21st century: new online tool

11/05/2015 - Global food demand will double until mid-century, and in particular the demand for animal products will rise rapidly, a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research shows. The development of future diets is not only crucial for food security and nutrition, but also for greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Using a new simple and transparent tool, the scientists investigated different scenarios for future calorie demand around the globe. Their results are visualized in an interactive online application, enabling interested parties to explore the future demand for plant and animal products per capita and day on a continental scale.

Global food demand scenarios for the 21st century: new online tool - Read More…

„Self-combustion“: Schellnhuber's view of the big picture

„Self-combustion“: Schellnhuber's view of the big picture

11/02/2015 - From the pioneer days in barracks to the Pope in the Vatican, from the first mathematical equations to cutting edge computer simulations – for three decades, the physicist and political advisor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has been exploring climate change as a challenge for humanity. Account of the state of research, life story, eco-manifest: all this is his major upcoming book on the climate crisis. As the founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), he authored hundreds of scientific papers and shaped ideas like the internationally-accepted two-degree limit. A few weeks prior to the UN Climate Summit in Paris, his book now addresses a wider public.

„Self-combustion“: Schellnhuber's view of the big picture - Read More…

Local destabilization can cause complete loss of West Antarctica’s ice masses

Local destabilization can cause complete loss of West Antarctica’s ice masses

11/02/2015 -The huge West Antarctic ice sheet would collapse completely if the comparatively small Amundsen Basin is destabilized, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research find. A full discharge of ice into the ocean is calculated to yield about 3 meters of sea-level rise. Recent studies indicated that this area of the ice continent is already losing stability, making it the first element in the climate system about to tip. The new publication for the first time shows the inevitable consequence of such an event. According to the computer simulations, a few decades of ocean warming can start an ice loss that continues for centuries or even millennia.

Local destabilization can cause complete loss of West Antarctica’s ice masses - Read More…

If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C

If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C

10/26/2015 - Though most countries around the globe agree that warming must be limited to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the raft of climate risks, they clash about who should do what to reach this target. Hence the issue of allocating greenhouse-gas emissions reductions will be key for the outcome of the world climate summit COP21 in Paris. Scientists now found what amount of emissions reductions it takes for a major economy to lead out of the climate gridlock. They conclude that effectively limiting climate change is possible if a major economy acts as a forerunner, while other nations follow – and, importantly, by doing so they do not have to agree on common criteria for fairness.

If a major economy takes the lead, warming could be limited to 2°C - Read More…

A visit from the White House: US science advisor meets Schellnhuber

A visit from the White House: US science advisor meets Schellnhuber

10/22/2015 - President Obama’s Science Advisor John Holdren visited the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research to discuss climate change issues with its director John Schellnhuber. Holdren is Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Policy . Before taking office, he was a Professor at Harvard University; like Schellnhuber, he is a physicist.

A visit from the White House: US science advisor meets Schellnhuber - Read More…

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