Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Founding Year: 1992

Staff: 300

Budget: €21.1m

Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström (Co-Director, Founder and Former Director SRC)

A non-profit organization funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal State of Brandenburg. “PIK” addresses crucial scientific questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts, and sustainable development, with researchers from the natural and social sciences. The organization’s main methods are systems and scenarios analysis, modelling, computer simulation, and data integration. It runs over 100 externally funded projects all over the world.

Research Domains:

  • Earth System Analysis: the coupled dynamics of the geosphere, biosphere, and “anthroposphere” under natural and human forcing;
  • Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities: assessing effects and uncertainties at different levels of global warming (2°C, 3°C, and 4°C);
  • Sustainable Solutions: identifies and evaluates transformation pathways with focus on energy and land use, regulatory regimes, and strategies for global adaptation;
  • Complexity Science: Applies machine learning, nonlinear methods and decision strategies to study flows of energy and raw materials, nonlinear visualization techniques, etc.


  • Land use modelling – An interdisciplinary team to advance scientific understanding of global land-use dynamics and their sub-systems. Combines the biophysical and socio-economic expertise of the associated modeling teams, spanning the full range of the drivers, feedback, and impacts of land-use change.
  • Global biosphere and water modelling – Looks into the carbon and water cycles of the global terrestrial biosphere are central elements in the Earth System as well as for human resource consumption. The dynamic response of vegetation patterns to changes in climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations as well as human land use strongly affect the Earth System’s response to the emissions of greenhouse gases and climate change.
  • Coevolutionary Pathways in the World-Earth System – Studies the main linear and nonlinear feedbacks and alternative stable attractors in the mid- and long-term coevolution of natural and socio-economic subsystems of the Earth system.
  • DominoES project – Looks into domino effects in the earth system. There are indications for significant interlinkages between climate tipping elements and even the potential for tipping cascades or domino effects from the climate to the social sphere.
  • East Africa Peru India Climate Capacities – Aims to strengthen resilience against disruptive weather phenomena and climate change at national, regional and local level in three partner countries.
  • Economic Growth Impacts of Climate Change – Aims to move towards closing knowledge gaps about socio-economic impacts of climate change, especially changes in economic growth to improve the integrated assessment of impacts, mitigation and adaptation.


  • Annual reports (German)
  • A library of 7500+ scientific articles, books, habilitations, theses, reports, and research data
  • 121 PIK Reports assessing the impacts of Climate Change
  • Climate Impact: The web portal is a result of climate impact research for different sector


  • All options, not silver bullets, needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C: a scenario appraisal (2021)  – This special report (SR1.5) “presents 414 emissions scenarios modelled for the report” to examine “the necessity of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. “

  • Complex systems approaches for Earth system data analysis (2021) – They “summarize recent advances in nonlinear data analysis of both simulated and real-world complex systems, with a focus on recurrence analysis for the investigation of individual or small sets of time series, and complex networks for the analysis of possibly very large, spatiotemporal datasets. We review and explain the recent success of these two key concepts of complexity science with an emphasis on applications for the analysis of geoscientific and in particular (palaeo-) climate data. “


Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
    Calls for an end to poverty globally by 2030 and promotes increased access to basic services and social protection.
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  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
    Aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
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  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
    Aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, by reducing mortality rates and increasing access to equitable health care for men and women.
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  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
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  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    Aims to end gender discrimination in all forms and promote equal opportunity for all women and girls in terms of education, career, and sexual/reproductive rights.
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  • SDG 6 -Clean Water and Sanitisation
    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by promoting global access to adequate sanitation and hygiene.
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  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by promoting affordable and reliable energy sources.
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  • SDG 8 -Decent Work and Economic Growth
    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
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  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
    Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.  
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  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    Aims to achieve economic growth by reducing inequalities regarding social, economic and political opportunities and freedoms.
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  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    Aims to promote the globalization of sustainable cities and communities in turn providing universal safe and affordable housing.
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  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
    Aims to create responsible and sustainable practices involving consumption and production through efficiently using natural resources.
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  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
    Calls to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through global awareness, education, and integration into government policies.
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  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
    Calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and prevent and reduce marine pollution in order to protect ecosystems and achieve healthy oceans.
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  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
    Aims to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
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  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
    Aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Calls to reduce all forms of violence and deaths related to violence and to end abuse and exploitation
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  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
    Aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development by mobilizing domestic resources in order to provide support for developing countries.
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