Climate disasters like heat-waves or droughts enhance the risk of armed conflicts in countries with high ethnic diversity, scientists found. They used a novel statistical approach to analyze data from the past three decades. While each conflict is certainly the result of a complex and specific mix of factors, it turns out that the outbreak of violence in ethnically fractionalized countries is often linked to natural disasters that may fuel smoldering social tensions. This finding, to be published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, can help in the design of security policies – even more so since future global warming from human-made greenhouse-gas emissions will increase natural disasters and therefore likely also risks of conflicts and migration.
09/30/2016 - Volkswagen appointed a sustainability council - one of the members is Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The new body will meet for the first time at the end of October in Berlin. VW is selling more cars than any other corporation worldwide. The company is currently under pressure because of manipulations of diesel engines' emission measurements.
09/30/2016 - From Facebook to international climate agreements like the Paris accord that is currently in the ratification process, the stability of complex social networks is still poorly understood. To better assess system crash likelihood, an international team of scientists now proposes a new mathematical system dynamics model. One key factor for system collapse is individual action based on local information, the study finds. When a member of the network - be it a person or a state - observes friends or allies to leave the system, it likely opts out as well. Small perturbations can hence have huge impacts.
09/29/2016 - From sea-level rise to the "cultural costs of climate change" - Amy Howden-Chapman from New Zealand ist this year's guest artist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Since 2011, PIK's "Artist in Residence" program is realized in cooperation with the Artists in Berlin program of DAAD and since 2015 also in close collaboration with the City of Potsdam.
26/09/2016 - The author of the 1972 classic “The Limits of Growth”, Dennis Meadows, who has often been dubbed the godfather of the environmental movement, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research for some talks and to present his new book, “The Climate Change Playbook”. He introduced a number of metaphorical games to communicate climate change in a playful way.
09/23/2016 - In an unprecedented move, 375 renowned scientists including 30 Nobel Laureates have warned the US presidency candidates not to shun the Paris climate agreement. In an open letter published this week, the scholars emphasize that human-caused global warming including its negative impacts is “not a belief, it is a physical reality”. All signers are members of the eminent US National Academy of Sciences, including the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.
26/09/2016 - When the summer rains in China are weak, they are strong in Australia, and vice versa – scientists have discovered a previously unknown see-saw relationship between these two monsoon regions. This effect does not occur from one year to another, but on decadal and centennial time scales. To detect the pattern, the team developed a novel mathematical method to analyze traces of climatic events of the past 9000 years archived in ancient dripstones from caves. The regional monsoon has huge effects on agriculture and hence on the livelihoods of half of the world’s population, including India and Indonesia. Understanding how seasonal periods of rainfall in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of our planet are linked is important for assessing possible long-distance effects of climate change.
09/22/2016 - Both heat waves like 2010 in Russia or cold spells like 2014 in the US have a common feature – they appeared together with certain patterns of gigantic airstreams in the atmosphere. This so called jetstream circles around the globe in waves swinging up and down between the Tropics and the Arctic. These large meandering planetary waves can have huge impacts – the economic damages of the 2014 cold spell at the US east coast with record-breaking cold temperatures for instance were estimated up to 5 billion Dollars.