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SPECIAL: IPCC report on 1,5°C: Unprecedented transformation needed to reach climate targets

Arctic Sea IceLimiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, says a new detailed assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries were involved in preparing the report, among them Elmar Kriegler from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) who is one of the lead authors for the key chapter on mitigation pathways. The Special Report on Global warming of 1.5°C will be an important scientific input into the UN climate summit in Poland in December and was prepared in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change when the historic Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. 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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When sea levels rise, damage costs rise even faster

When sea levels rise, damage costs rise even faster

02/29/2016 - Damages from extreme events like floods are even more relevant than the mean sea level itself when it comes to the costs of climate impacts for coastal regions. However, while it is now rather well understood how sea-levels will rise in the future, only small progress has been made estimating how the implied damage for cities at the coasts will increase during the next decades. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now provides a method to quantify monetary losses from coastal floods under sea-level rise. For the first time, the scientists show that the damage costs consistently increase at a higher rate than the sea-level rise itself.

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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.

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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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