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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...

Potsdam-China and back: "When climate projections return home"

Potsdam-China and back: "When climate projections return home"

02/05/2018 - China's Guanting region is threatened by water scarcity - how water and land can be used sustainably was explored over several years by a German-Chinese team headed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Now the scientists published a book on their findings. The researchers applied computer simulations on climate change and water cycles in Brandenburg to the Guanting region. They thereby gained valuable new methodological insights for refining their models - and now bring this back to Germany: a learning process across continents.

Potsdam-China and back: "When climate projections return home" - Read More…

National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina appoints Edenhofer

National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina appoints Edenhofer

01/31/2018 - Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, was elected member of the Leopoldina. The honouring is a special recognition of his scientific achievements and his personality, said Leopoldina President Jörg Hacker about Edenhofer, who is also Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons (MCC) and Professor of Economics of Climate Change at TU Berlin. The selection of a member for the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina follows strict standards and requires a broad agreement of the Extended Presidium.

National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina appoints Edenhofer - Read More…

Coal phase-out: Announcing CO2-pricing triggers divestment

Coal phase-out: Announcing CO2-pricing triggers divestment

01/29/2018 - Putting the Paris climate agreement into practice will trigger opposed reactions by investors on the one hand and fossil fuel owners on the other hand. It has been feared that the anticipation of strong CO2 reduction policies might – a ‘green paradox’ – drive up these emissions: before the regulations kick in, fossil fuel owners might accelerate their resource extraction to maximize profits. Yet at the same time, investors might stop putting their money into coal power plants as they can expect their assets to become stranded. Now for the first time a study investigates both effects that to date have been discussed only separately. On balance, divestment beats the green paradox if substantial carbon pricing is credibly announced, a team of energy economists finds. Consequently, overall CO2 emissions would be effectively reduced.

Coal phase-out: Announcing CO2-pricing triggers divestment - Read More…

EU commissioner Stylianides visits PIK

EU commissioner Stylianides visits PIK

01/24/2018 - The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) together with Director-General Monique Pariat and members of cabinet. He was interested in the latest climate research and particularly in prevention measures for the increasing risks of floods and forest fires due to climate change.

EU commissioner Stylianides visits PIK - Read More…

FAZ-Blog: PIK climate scientists on expedition to the Antarctic

FAZ-Blog: PIK climate scientists on expedition to the Antarctic

01/23/2017 - The researchers Ricarda Winkelmann and Ronja Reese from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) recently departed for their expedition to Antarctica with the research vessel "Polarstern" of the Alfred Wegener Institute. Over the next few weeks, they will report regularly on their expedition, ice and climate change in a blog on FAZ.net. Usually, the two mathematicians at PIK work with numerical models and computer simulations. In the next few weeks, however, they will be collecting data on the Antarctic sea ice to learn more about the sensitivity of the gigantic ice masses of the ice continent.

FAZ-Blog: PIK climate scientists on expedition to the Antarctic - Read More…

Biomass plantations not compatible with planetary boundaries

Biomass plantations not compatible with planetary boundaries

01/22/2018 - Planting trees or grasses on a grand scale in plantations to extract CO2 from the atmosphere - this could make a long-term contribution to climate protection, but it would push the planet beyond ecological limits in other dimensions. A new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in the journal Nature Climate Change now for the first time establishes a connection between ambitious international climate objectives and the more comprehensive concept of planetary boundaries. If biomass plantations in which plants bind carbon dioxide during growth are massively expanded, this would entail enormous risks for areas that are already stressed, such as biodiversity, biogeochemical flows, water resources and land use. According to the study, biomass as a means to capture and store CO2 can therefore only make a limited contribution. In order to stabilize the climate, a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of coal, oil and gas is crucial.

Biomass plantations not compatible with planetary boundaries - Read More…

Adaptation now: River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming

Adaptation now: River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming

11/01/2018 - Rainfall changes caused by global warming will increase river flood risks across the globe. Already today, fluvial floods are among the most common and devastating natural disasters. Scientists have now calculated the required increase in flood protection until the 2040s worldwide, breaking it down to single regions and cities. They find that the need for adaptation is greatest in the US, parts of India and Africa, Indonesia, and in Central Europe including Germany. Inaction would expose many millions of people to severe flooding.

Adaptation now: River flood risks increase around the globe under future warming - Read More…

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