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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...

"A trefoil in the woods" - PIK scientists move into new research building

"A trefoil in the woods" - PIK scientists move into new research building

09/28/2015 - Potsdam´s climate science moves into a new, energetically highly innovative research building. The modern facility with a ground plan shaped like a trefoil will accomodate not only about 200 scientists on four floors, but also the new supercomputer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) that is among the 400 fastest high-performance computers worldwide. Brandenburg´s Minister of Research, Sabine Kunst, as well as Stefan Müller, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, and Matthias Kleiner, President of the Leibniz Association, congratulated the institute at the festive opening for its exceptional building - which itself is a research project, too.

"A trefoil in the woods" - PIK scientists move into new research building - Read More…

Schellnhuber meets with President of Taiwan

Schellnhuber meets with President of Taiwan

09/17/2015 - Greenhouse gas reduction pathways to limit climate change risks have been the core topic of a meeting of the President of Taiwan Ying-jeou Ma with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Ma received Schellnhuber for an official discussion this week before Taiwan published its intended contributions to global emissions reductions. Schellnhuber also gave a keynote address at a forum sponsored by Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration with Minister Kuo-yen Wei. Another highlight was a scientific symposium on deep decarbonization pathways organized by the Academia Sinica under the leadership of Nobel Laureate Yuan-Tseh Lee.

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How new coal power plants let climate goals go up in smoke

How new coal power plants let climate goals go up in smoke

09/17/2015 - The window of opportunity for a global fossil fuel phase out is closing faster than expected. In particular poor but fast-growing developing countries are currently investing heavily in the construction of new coal power plants. However, one reason why this source of fuel is so cheap is that its price does not incorporate the social costs, such as health. This is the topic of the article “King Coal and the Queen of Subsidies” by Ottmar Edenhofer, chief-economist at the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research and Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), now published in the journal Science.

How new coal power plants let climate goals go up in smoke - Read More…

Burning all fossil energy would raise sea-level by more than 50 meters – and eliminate all ice of Antarctica

Burning all fossil energy would raise sea-level by more than 50 meters – and eliminate all ice of Antarctica

09/11/2015 - Burning all of the world’s available fossil-fuel resources would result in the complete melting of the Antarctic ice sheet, a new study to be published in Science Advances shows. The Antarctic ice masses store water equivalent to more than 50 meters of sea-level rise. The new calculations show that Antarctica’s long-term contribution to sea-level rise could likely be restricted to a few meters that could still be manageable, if global warming did not exceed 2 degrees. Crossing this threshold, however, would in the long run destabilize both West and East Antarctica – causing sea-level rise that would reshape coastal regions around the globe for millennia to come.

Burning all fossil energy would raise sea-level by more than 50 meters – and eliminate all ice of Antarctica - Read More…

"Facing Natural Hazards" – the Second international Potsdam Summer School will Start on 14 September 2015

"Facing Natural Hazards" – the Second international Potsdam Summer School will Start on 14 September 2015

09/11/2015 - The growing world population, climate change, rapid urbanisation, and the international interdependence of economies are all increasing our vulnerability to natural hazards. Such major global challenges are the focus of the second Potsdam Summer School on "Facing Natural Hazards". From 14 to 23 September 2015, 40 young professionals from 28 countries will meet with renowned scientists from Potsdam's Earth and Environmental Science institutions as well as with international experts. Participants will discuss the most pressing scientific and socially relevant issues concerning natural hazards. Earth and climate scientists, oceanographers, and mathematicians will exchange ideas and personal perspectives with social scientists, industry representatives, and politicians. Why do we tend to play down certain natural hazards while we dramatise others? What can we do in future to protect us from natural hazards? These questions will not only be discussed among the participants, but will also be addressed in a public lecture by the risk researcher Prof. Dr. Ortwin Renn on 21 September in Potsdam's Hans Otto Theatre.

"Facing Natural Hazards" – the Second international Potsdam Summer School will Start on 14 September 2015 - Read More…

Debate in the run-up to Paris

Debate in the run-up to Paris

09/10/2015 - What´s in store at the next climate conference, COP21, later this year? This week, staff of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research gathered for an exchange of insights and perspectives. There were a number of contributions from post-docs and senior scientists on the latest research that stimulated a vibrant discussion.

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Yearbook Ecology on global environment policy

Yearbook Ecology on global environment policy

09/01/2015 - From planetary boundaries to the impacts of a four-degree world to COP21 in Paris: experts take stock of international environment policies in the recently published Yearbook Ecology entitled: “Wanted: a global environment policy”. Among the authors are Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and other specialists from PIK.

Yearbook Ecology on global environment policy - Read More…

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