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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...

Unprecedented number of briefings in run-up of climate summit

Unprecedented number of briefings in run-up of climate summit

11/16/2015 - In the run-up of the much anticipated UN climate summit in Paris, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are involved in an unprecedented number of briefings and public events. In this crucial time, stakeholders and media increasingly ask for the perspective of science on the state of the Earth and perspectives for climate policy. Yet PIK scientists also try to directly inform interested citizens. It is impossible to provide a complete list of all such outreach efforts, but here are some noteworthy examples.

Unprecedented number of briefings in run-up of climate summit - Read More…

Making sense of emission reduction pledges: modeling experts gather in Potsdam

Making sense of emission reduction pledges: modeling experts gather in Potsdam

11/16/2015 - Economists and scientists this week come from all over the world to Potsdam for the annual meeting of the Integrated Assessment Modeling Consortium (IAMC). In the run-up of the UN climate summit in Paris, one focus of the experts’ discussions will be the greenhouse gas emission reduction pledges of governments, the so-called INDCs. To assess their real-world effects is crucial for mapping out policy options for and beyond the summit. Other issues to be debated include the modeling of climate impacts and sustainable development implications, the use of scenarios and the evaluation of model analysis.

Making sense of emission reduction pledges: modeling experts gather in Potsdam - 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…

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