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

  Organization Type

  Geographic Foci


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