Complex Networks, Machine Learning & Decision Theory
Frontier science with new methods. This is one of our research topics.
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Health, Security & Development
Keeping people safe in the face of climate impacts. This is one of our research topics.
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Ice, Oceans & Sea Level Rise
Identifying long-term dynamics to assess the risks. This is one of our research topics.
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Planetary Boundaries, Tipping Elements & Global Commons
Grand concepts put to work to tackle grand challenges. This is one of our research topics.
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Weather, Extremes & Atmosphere
What happens high up in the sky affects everyone’s life down on the ground. This is one of our research topics.
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Land Use, Food, Water & Ecosystems
Understanding the multiple interactions is key to sustainable development. This is one of our research topics.
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Climate Policy, Economics & Energy
Finding ways to stabilize our climate and ensure equitable prosperity. This is one of our research topics.
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From natural science to social science, from risks to solutions, from identifying Planetary Boundaries to managing Global Commons: The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is advancing the frontier of integrated research for global sustainability, and for a safe and just climate future. A member of the Leibniz Association, the institute is based in Potsdam, Brandenburg and connected with the global scientific community. Drawing on excellent research, PIK provides relevant scientific advice for policy decision-making. The institute’s international staff of more than 300 is led by a committed interdisciplinary team of Directors. This is science – for a safe tomorrow.

Numbers

99% industry

99% industry

Almost all of industry energy needs in Europe can be satisfied with clean power by 2050. Replacing fossil fuels with low-CO2 electricity is key to stabilize our climate. 78% of industry’s energy demand is electrifiable with technologies that are already established, Potsdam researchers showed, while 99% can be achieved with the addition of technologies currently under development. However, industry electrification leads to greenhouse gas emissions reductions only if power generation gets greener. If we do this,  in line with the European Green Deal’s targets, energy-related industry emissions would become minimal by mid-century, leaving only process emissions from chemical reactions and the like which account for around one fifth of current industry emissions.

100 coronaviruses

100 coronaviruses

Over the past century, global greenhouse gas emissions have led to a sharp increase in the number of bat species in the southern Chinese Yunnan province. Bats in this area have been suggested as the original carriers of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Scientists from Cambridge, Potsdam and Hawaii showed in a study that climate change caused shifts in the natural vegetation of the region, which allowed c. 40 bat species, carrying around 100 coronaviruses, to expand into newly suitable habitat. This process would have likely created new opportunities for viruses to be transmitted or evolve, potentially facilitating the eventual spill-over to humans. In this way, climate change may have played an important role in the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2.

+1°C = -5% growth

+1°C = -5% growth

Day-to-day variations in temperature, i.e. short-term variability, has a substantial impact on macroeconomic growth, according to an article by Maximilian Kotz et al, published in Nature Climate Change. If this variability increases by one degree Celsius, economic growth is reduced on average by 5 percentage-points. Particularly affected are economies in low-income regions of the global South, where seasonal temperature differences can be as small as 3°C and farmers and small business owners have not yet cultivated resilience against temperature variability. This is in contrast to Economies in Canada or Russia, where average monthly temperature varies by more than 40°C within a year and economic actors seem better prepared to cope with daily temperature fluctuations than in low-latitude regions

11 proxy data series

11 proxy data series

Never before in over 1000 years the Gulf Stream System (also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation AMOC), has been as weak as in the last decades. PIK researchers have determined evidence of the AMOC weakening with the help of 11 proxy data series (information gathered by so called climate archives like ocean sediments, corals etc): They have compiled 11 independent data series from the North Atlantic, almost all of them from deep-sea sediment cores. They all provide a consistent picture about the flow characteristics of the Gulf Stream System and its weakening in the past 70 years. The slowdown is likely related to man-made climate change.

3 Million Years

3 Million Years

Ocean floor deposits and model calculations have confirmed that in the past 3 million years, the global mean temperature has never been more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, with fluctuating CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Since the beginning of industrialization, more CO2 has accumulated in the atmosphere through the burning of coal, oil and gas than probably ever before in the past 3 million years. Thus, in our current century, there is real threat that without effective climate policy the 2-degree limit of global warming will be breached for the first time – with far-reaching consequences.

Publications

PIK in the Media

"Österreich geht in Richtung 5 bis 6 Grad Erwärmung"
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Wie kam Homo sapiens in die Welt?
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Umwelt : Bauen mit Holz statt Beton
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Klimawandel: Wie verkleinern wir den CO2-Fußabdruck?
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ArchitekturProjekt "Bauhaus der Erde" soll mehr Klimaschutz beim Bauen anregen
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Bund und Brandenburg unterstützen Klima-Initiative
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