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

Photo Schellnhuber presents 10 Must-Knows on Climate at COP23Rainfall 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. Read more ...

New US President a risk for climate policy

New US President a risk for climate policy

01/20/2017 - Today, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as 45th President of the United States. "His populism as a business model will not prove viable in the long term," comments Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), Professor at Technische Universität Berlin.

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Harvests in the US to suffer from climate change

Harvests in the US to suffer from climate change

01/19/2017 - Some of the most important crops risk substantial damage from rising temperatures. To better assess how climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions will likely impact wheat, maize and soybean, an international team of scientists now ran an unprecedentedly comprehensive set of computer simulations of US crop yields. The simulations were shown to reproduce the observed strong reduction in past crop yields induced by high temperatures, thereby confirming that they capture one main mechanism for future projections. Importantly, the scientists find that increased irrigation can help to reduce the negative effects of global warming on crops – but this is possible only in regions where sufficient water is available. Eventually limiting global warming is needed to keep crop losses in check.

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How the darkness and the cold killed the dinosaurs

How the darkness and the cold killed the dinosaurs

2017/01/13 - 66 million years ago, the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs started the ascent of the mammals, ultimately resulting in humankind’s reign on Earth. Climate scientists now reconstructed how tiny droplets of sulfuric acid formed high up in the air after the well-known impact of a large asteroid and blocking the sunlight for several years, had a profound influence on life on Earth. Plants died, and death spread through the food web. Previous theories focused on the shorter-lived dust ejected by the impact. The new computer simulations show that the droplets resulted in long-lasting cooling, a likely contributor to the death of land-living dinosaurs. An additional kill mechanism might have been a vigorous mixing of the oceans, caused by the surface cooling, severely disturbing marine ecosystems.

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Water Future: PIK chairs new working group on groundwater management

Water Future: PIK chairs new working group on groundwater management

23/12/2016 - Groundwater has contributed greatly to increasing food security by ensuring water availability for irrigation at critical times. Today, 43 percent of global food production depends on groundwater use. However, water reserves are not endless, and climate change puts additional pressure on groundwater management. A new transdisciplinary and international research group on Water Management in the Future Earth Framework will address these challenges, co-chaired by Anne Biewald of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). As part of the Sustainable Water Future Programme, several research groups will bring together the best international expertise to drive solutions to the world’s water problems.

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How fair are the countries' climate pledges?

How fair are the countries' climate pledges?

12/19/2016 - Benchmarks to guide countries in ratcheting-up their ambition to remain well-below 2°C and pursue 1,5°C in an equitable manner are critical but not yet determined in the context of the Paris Agreement. A new study published in Nature Climate Change analyzes the national climate targets needed to meet the 1.5°C and 2°C goals according to five different equity principles, and how these compare with the current climate pledges.

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Consumption, climate change and agriculture

Consumption, climate change and agriculture

16/12/2016 - The holiday season is in full swing and many enjoy the opportunity to feast – or to make new year resolutions for a healthier diet. What we eat is more than a private decision – the agriculture and land use sector is one of the central players in ambitious climate change mitigation efforts. Yet, mitigation policies in agriculture may conflict with food security. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research analyzed the impacts on food prices under mitigation policies – targeting either incentives for producers or consumer preferences. They show that policy instruments to mitigate climate change with an educational approach to change food preferences can avoid unwanted impacts of climate change mitigation measures on food security.

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Scientific policy advise for G20

Scientific policy advise for G20

14/12/2016 – Germany has taken the presidency of the G20 in the beginning of December. Leading PIK-scientists support the Federal Government in this process on several levels. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), handed over a Special Report with concrete recommendations for action on a transformation together with the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Last week at the kick-off of the so-called T20-process, the team of PIK’s chief economist Ottmar Edenhofer took the lead of the task force on climate policy.

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