Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research addresses crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development.

Researchers from the natural and social sciences work together to generate interdisciplinary insights and to provide society with sound information for decision making.

The main methodologies are systems and scenarios analysis, modelling, computer simulation, and data integration.


Data concerning the past and present earth system as well as data on economic and social developments provide the basis for most research at PIK. Analysis of records and information constantly collected around the globe helps to understand the complex dynamics at play. This applies to flow processes in the Antarctic Ice Sheet as well as price trends in the European emissions trading system - both relate to climate.

The data gathered is fed into models – multidimensional systems of equations that simulate processes in the earth system or in economic systems. Models are mostly tested on the past. Whether they reliably replicate temperature gradation of past cold and warm periods can be verified through data from natural climate archives. These are for example ice cores from the polar regions or sediments from the coasts. Once the models are calibrated, they can be used to project future developments – always based on certain assumptions like the increase of CO2 emissions.

The results are scenarios: not predictions, but if-then statements. The uncertainties which are inherent in many scenarios are clearly spelled out according to good scientific practice.

Maintaining scientific excellence remains central in all the institute's activities, however pressing the social relevance and urgency of the institute´s research agenda. Most findings are published in international scientific journals after being thoroughly reviewed by researchers of other institutions. PIK itself is externally evaluated on a regular basis. It is only on the basis of such a comprehensive quality control that PIK provides its scientific findings to decision makers from politics and business.


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Adaptation Decision Making

Sharing methods, tools and approaches for adaptation decision-making.

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a woman and man exchanging money at a food market stand

Impacts of climate change on global food trade networks

Learn about the potential cross-border impacts of climate change on global food trade, through the lens of three crops: wheat, rice and maize. Using a simple network model, this journal article projects changes to trade communities and network structures, as well as the effects that this will have on global food security.

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SENSES Toolkit

The SENSES Toolkit, developed in the EC SENSES project, offers a range of modules for finance, policy and regional decision makers to learn about and explore climate change scenarios.

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Home Lands: Island and Archipelagic States’ Policymaking for Human Mobility in the Context of Climate Change

Island and Archipelagic States’ Policymaking for Human Mobility in the Context of Climate Change

This report provides an overview of how human mobility in the context of climate change (HMCCC) fits into the policy landscape of nine island and archipelagic countries.

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Two people walking on a mountain in Hindu Kush Himalaya. View with a peak behind and a blue sky.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment

This open access volume is the first comprehensive assessment of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. 

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Boats on dry land

The Economic Cost of Climate Change in Europe

This document synthesises the latest results from the COACCH project on the economic costs of climate change in Europe by sector and socio-economic tipping points.

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coacch plants

CO-designing the Assessment of Climate CHange costs (COACCH)

The COACCH project will produce improved downscaled assessment of the risks and costs of climate change in Europe that can be accessed directly by research, business and policy makers.

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