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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...

Sea-level rise past and future: robust estimates for coastal planners

Sea-level rise past and future: robust estimates for coastal planners

02/23/2016 - Sea-levels worldwide will likely rise by 50 to 130 centimeters by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced rapidly. This is shown in a new study led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research that, for the first time, combines the two most important estimation methods for future sea-level rise and yields a more robust risk range. A second study, like the first one to be published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides the first global analysis of sea-level data for the past 3000 years. It confirms that during the past millennia sea-level has never risen nearly as fast as during the last century. Together, the two studies give critical information for coastal planning. For expert assessments of future sea-level rise, the authors make the tool available online.

Sea-level rise past and future: robust estimates for coastal planners - Read More…

Better water management could halve the global food gap

Better water management could halve the global food gap

02/16/2016 - Improved agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate change effects on crop yields. For the first time, scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation. They found the potential has previously been underestimated. Investing in crop water management could substantially reduce hunger while at the same time making up for population growth. However, putting the findings into practice would require specific local solutions, which remains a challenge.

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Future Earth Summit in Berlin

Future Earth Summit in Berlin

02/01/2016 - Researchers from the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences and engineering came together in Berlin last week with stakeholders from policy, business and civil society at the “Future Earth Summit”. The second major conference of German sustainability research focused on topics like Earth system modeling and social macrodynamics or science and society and discussed international sustainability science in the light of the Paris agreement and other recent developments.

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Research Days: Potsdam post Paris

Research Days: Potsdam post Paris

01/28/2016 - All members of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research gathered this week to discuss current and future research – and the outcomes of COP21 in Paris. Every year, the so called Research Days are an opportunity to present the various scientific activities of the institute, and to debate the challenges ahead.

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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.

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

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