You are here: Home Research Earth System Analysis News & Events RD1 Highlights

Highlights

RD1 Science Highlights
Climate disasters increase risk of armed conflict in multi-ethnic countries

Climate disasters increase risk of armed conflict in multi-ethnic countries

07/26/2016 - 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.

Climate disasters increase risk of armed conflict in multi-ethnic countries - Read More…

Controlled implosion of fossil industries and explosive renewables development can deliver on Paris

Controlled implosion of fossil industries and explosive renewables development can deliver on Paris

06/23/2016 - While some criticize the Paris climate target as impracticable, a team of scholars argues that it is – on the contrary – a triumph of realism. First, and most importantly, adhering to the Paris target of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius is necessary in view of the massive risks that unchecked climate change would pose to society. A crucial type of threats, associated with the crossing of tipping points in the Earth system, is summarized in a landmark map for the first time. Second, implementing the Paris target is feasible through the controlled implosion of the fossil industry, instigated by a technological explosion related to renewable energy systems and other innovations. Third, the target is simple enough to create worldwide political momentum, the scientists say in their comment published in Nature Climate Change.

Controlled implosion of fossil industries and explosive renewables development can deliver on Paris - Read More…

Extreme weather events linked to stalling of planetary waves

Extreme weather events linked to stalling of planetary waves

06/11/2016 - Many extreme weather events in the Northern hemisphere have recently been accompanied by a stalling of huge airstreams high up in the atmosphere that normally circle our planet, taking the form of gigantic waves swinging up and down between the Tropics and the Arctic. Looking into the events of the summers three and four years ago, a new study by a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research finds that in fact a majority of extremes go with observed disturbances of the so-called planetary waves, adding evidence to the assumption that this connection might be of key importance.

Extreme weather events linked to stalling of planetary waves - Read More…

Young scientists meet at PIK: What comes after a PhD?

Young scientists meet at PIK: What comes after a PhD?

Young scientist from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) discussed their working routines and career perspectives with regard to their doctorate. Once a year the “PhD-Day” offers the opportunity to meet up in the whole group of PhD candidates to share experiences, talk about research projects and train in science related skills. The focus of the current meeting was on possible career steps following the doctoral thesis.

Young scientists meet at PIK: What comes after a PhD? - Read More…

German government appoints Wolfgang Lucht to advisory council

German government appoints Wolfgang Lucht to advisory council

04/29/2016 - The Federal Goverment of Germany this week appointed Wolfgang Lucht from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to its Advisory Council on the Environment (Sachverständigenrat Umweltfragen, SRU). The Berlin-based board consists of seven renowned scientists. It is mandated by the government to give policy recommendations as well as issue comprehensive reports, with a focus on Germany. The new members of the body will start their four-year term in July.

German government appoints Wolfgang Lucht to advisory council - Read More…

Record Balkan floods linked to jamming of giant airstreams

Record Balkan floods linked to jamming of giant airstreams

04/15/2016 - Disastrous floods in the Balkans two years ago are likely linked to the temporary slowdown of giant airstreams, scientists found. These wind patterns, circling the globe in the form of huge waves between the Equator and the North Pole, normally move eastwards, but practically stopped for several days then – at the same time, a weather system got stuck over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia that poured out record amounts of rain. The study adds evidence that so-called planetary wave resonance is a key mechanism for causing extreme weather events in summer. Further, the scientists showed that extreme rainfall events are strongly increasing in the Balkans, even more than the globally observed rise.

Record Balkan floods linked to jamming of giant airstreams - Read More…

Scientists and policy-makers discuss Planetary Boundaries

Scientists and policy-makers discuss Planetary Boundaries

03/04/2016 - How can humankind limit global environmental change and stay within a safe operating space for development? This question is an issue both for scientists investigating environmental guardrails as well as for policy makers looking for feasible pathways. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) together with Berlin-based science policy thinktank ”adelphi research” and the Stockholm Environment Institute brought together leading international scientists and German policymakers in a workshop to discuss opportunities and limits for an operationalization of the Planetary Boundaries framework for national governance. The role of policies for increasing resource efficiency were a key issue throughout the meeting.

Scientists and policy-makers discuss Planetary Boundaries - Read More…

Sea-level rise past and future: robust estimates for coastal planners

Sea-level rise past and future: robust estimates for coastal planners

02/23/2016 - Sea-levels worldwide will likely rise by 50 to 130 centimeters by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced rapidly. This is shown in a new study led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research that, for the first time, combines the two most important estimation methods for future sea-level rise and yields a more robust risk range. A second study, like the first one to be published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides the first global analysis of sea-level data for the past 3000 years. It confirms that during the past millennia sea-level has never risen nearly as fast as during the last century. Together, the two studies give critical information for coastal planning. For expert assessments of future sea-level rise, the authors make the tool available online.

Sea-level rise past and future: robust estimates for coastal planners - Read More…

Better water management could halve the global food gap

Better water management could halve the global food gap

02/16/2016 - Improved agricultural water management could halve the global food gap by 2050 and buffer some of the harmful climate change effects on crop yields. For the first time, scientists investigated systematically the worldwide potential to produce more food with the same amount of water by optimizing rain use and irrigation. They found the potential has previously been underestimated. Investing in crop water management could substantially reduce hunger while at the same time making up for population growth. However, putting the findings into practice would require specific local solutions, which remains a challenge.

Better water management could halve the global food gap - Read More…

Tracing observed climate impacts to greenhouse gas emissions

Tracing observed climate impacts to greenhouse gas emissions

01/28/2016 - Roughly two-thirds of observed climate change impacts related to atmospheric and ocean temperature over the past 40 years can be confidently attributed to human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, an international team of scientists found. For the impacts observed not just on regional but on continental scales, even three quarters are mainly due to our burning of burning fossil fuels. Evidence connecting changes in precipitation and their respective impacts to human influence is still weak, but is expected to grow.

Tracing observed climate impacts to greenhouse gas emissions - Read More…

Leibniz President Kleiner visits PIK

Leibniz President Kleiner visits PIK

01/27/2016 - The president of Leibniz Association, Matthias Kleiner, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) for an exchange on current projects and developments. Among other topics the focus of the meetings was also on research strategies. Kleiner met with PIK Director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber as well as with the Chairs of PIK’s four research domains.

Leibniz President Kleiner visits PIK - Read More…

Human-made climate change suppresses the next ice age

Human-made climate change suppresses the next ice age

01/13/2016 - Humanity has become a geological force that is able to suppress the beginning of the next ice age, a study now published in the renowned scientific journal Nature shows. Cracking the code of glacial inception, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found the relation of insolation and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to be the key criterion to explain the last eight glacial cycles in Earth history. At the same time their results illustrate that even moderate human interference with the planet’s natural carbon balance might postpone the next glacial inception by 100.000 years.

Human-made climate change suppresses the next ice age - Read More…

Historic climate agreement: “The spirits of Paris have defeated the ghosts of Copenhagen"

Historic climate agreement: “The spirits of Paris have defeated the ghosts of Copenhagen"

12/14/2015 - 195 states worldwide adopted a breakthrough climate agreement at the UN climate summit in Paris, COP21. Leading scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research actively participated in the historic meeting that put the world on the path to limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and bring down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades. While implementing the treaty will be an enormous challenge, for the first time ever climate stabilization and hence limiting climate risks including weather extremes and sea-level rise comes into reach. It is the beginning, not the end, of a process that now requires rapid implementation strong policy instruments that live up to the aspirations of the agreement.

Historic climate agreement: “The spirits of Paris have defeated the ghosts of Copenhagen" - Read More…

Cold, hot or dry: Persistent weather extremes associated with decreased storm activity

Cold, hot or dry: Persistent weather extremes associated with decreased storm activity

12/11/2015 - A decrease in storm activity over large parts of the US, Europe, Russia, and China is found to influence weather extremes – cold ones in winter, hot or dry ones in summer. This is now shown in a study by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The observed changes in storm activity are likely related to changes in other atmospheric dynamics like the jet stream – strong westerly winds circling the Northern hemisphere high up in the sky.

Cold, hot or dry: Persistent weather extremes associated with decreased storm activity - Read More…

Unprecedented number of briefings in run-up of climate summit

Unprecedented number of briefings in run-up of climate summit

11/16/2015 - In the run-up of the much anticipated UN climate summit in Paris, scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) are involved in an unprecedented number of briefings and public events. In this crucial time, stakeholders and media increasingly ask for the perspective of science on the state of the Earth and perspectives for climate policy. Yet PIK scientists also try to directly inform interested citizens. It is impossible to provide a complete list of all such outreach efforts, but here are some noteworthy examples.

Unprecedented number of briefings in run-up of climate summit - Read More…

The warmer the higher: sea-level rise from Filchner-Ronne ice in Antarctica

The warmer the higher: sea-level rise from Filchner-Ronne ice in Antarctica

10/05/2015 - The more ice is melted of the Antarctic Filchner-Ronne shelf, the more ice flows into the ocean and the more the region contributes to global sea-level rise. While this might seem obvious, it is no matter of course for the huge ice masses of Antarctica: parts of the ice continent are characterized by instabilities that, once triggered, can lead to persistent ice discharge into the ocean even without a further increase of warming - resulting in unstoppable long-term sea-level rise. In the Filchner-Ronne region however, ice-loss will likely not show such behavior, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research now found. Published in Nature Climate Change, their study shows that in this area the ice flow into the ocean increases just constantly with the heat provided by the ocean over time.

The warmer the higher: sea-level rise from Filchner-Ronne ice in Antarctica - 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.

Debate in the run-up to Paris - Read More…

Snowball Earth: algae triggered cooling millions of years ago

Snowball Earth: algae triggered cooling millions of years ago

08/27/2015 - The advance of certain algae was probably one key contribution to an almost complete glaciation of the Earth millions of years ago. The consequent rise in emissions of organic cloud-condensation nuclei led to increased cloudiness. Thereby, they likely contributed crucially to the cooling of the climate, because clouds reduce solar radiation on the Earth´s surface. This was discovered by a team of scientists in a new study to be published today in the renowned journal Nature Geoscience.

Snowball Earth: algae triggered cooling millions of years ago - 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…

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…

Document Actions