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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...

CO2 removal cannot save the oceans – if we pursue business as usual

CO2 removal cannot save the oceans – if we pursue business as usual

08/03/2015 - Greenhouse-gas emissions from human activities do not only cause rapid warming of the seas, but also ocean acidification at an unprecedented rate. Artificial carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere has been proposed to reduce both risks to marine life. A new study based on computer calculations now shows that this strategy would not work if applied too late. CDR cannot compensate for soaring business-as-usual emissions throughout the century and beyond, even if the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration would be restored to pre-industrial levels at some point in the future. This is due to the tremendous inertia of the ocean system. Thus, CDR cannot substitute timely emissions reductions, yet may play a role as a supporting actor in the climate drama.

CO2 removal cannot save the oceans – if we pursue business as usual - Read More…

From power grids to heartbeat: Using mathematics to restore rhythm

From power grids to heartbeat: Using mathematics to restore rhythm

07/15/2015 - When a rhythm stalls, the effect can be fatal – in a power grid it can mean a blackout, and in the human heart even death. An international team of scientists has now developed a new approach for revoking these undesired quenching states. They use an advanced mathematical methodology, building on complex networks analysis, and demonstrate it in experiments with chemical reactions. This could one day help to stabilize the flow of electricity in power grids challenged by the variable input from renewable energy sources. Future research could apply it to other complex networks, including processes within body cells and even the human cardiovascular system.

From power grids to heartbeat: Using mathematics to restore rhythm - Read More…

Edenhofer speaking to finance ministers at OECD green tax conference

Edenhofer speaking to finance ministers at OECD green tax conference

07/15/2015 - Strategies for environmental tax reform and growth were at the focus of a talk given by Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, at a high-level conference in the run-up of the world climate summit in Paris COP21 later this year. The recent meeting was a joint initiative by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Worldbank and others. It was attended by Finance and Environment Ministers, senior policy makers and experts from more than 90 countries, including China and Indonesia, Mexico and Egypt, Sweden and Portugal.

Edenhofer speaking to finance ministers at OECD green tax conference - Read More…

New super-computer for climate science ranks among world’s top 400

New super-computer for climate science ranks among world’s top 400

07/13/2015 - The new high-performance computer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research ranks among the 400 fastest world-wide. This was announced today at the beginning of the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The machine is able to do 212 trillion calculations per second – so called Teraflops. This allows simulations of the complex interactions between atmosphere, oceans, land and ice-sheets to a much larger extent than was hitherto possible on site. The computer’s waste heat is used – environmentally-friendly – to heat the new PIK research building.

New super-computer for climate science ranks among world’s top 400 - Read More…

Our Common Future Under Climate Change

Our Common Future Under Climate Change

07/10/2015 - This week, thousands of climate and social scientists as well as policy experts have met for the “Our Common Future under Climate Change” conference at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, among them a large number of experts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). It has been the biggest gathering of high-ranking scientists paving the way for COP21 in December, laying out the state of science for fact-based decision-making.

Our Common Future Under Climate Change - Read More…

Record-breaking heavy rainfall events increased under global warming

Record-breaking heavy rainfall events increased under global warming

07/08/2015 - Heavy rainfall events setting ever new records have been increasing strikingly in the past thirty years. While before 1980, multi-decadal fluctuations in extreme rainfall events are explained by natural variability, a team of scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research detected a clear upward trend in the past few decades towards more unprecedented daily rainfall events. They find the worldwide increase to be consistent with rising global temperatures which are caused by greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Short-term torrential rains can lead to high-impact floodings.

Record-breaking heavy rainfall events increased under global warming - Read More…

Waste works: new Artist in Residence

Waste works: new Artist in Residence

06/29/2015 - One ton of recycled plastic boards pose as surrogate books, filling library shelves – this is just one example of Dan Peterman’s works. The Chicago-based art professor from the University of Illinois is this summer’s Artist in Residence at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact research (PIK). With long-term commitment to the socially oriented and environmentally conscious art, he has widely exhibited in the United States and internationally. Now he’s seeking the exchange with climate scientists, from Antarctica experts to energy economists. On 30 June, he will give a talk at the Kunstraum, Schiffbauergasse Potsdam.

Waste works: new Artist in Residence - Read More…

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