Hans Joachim Schellnhuber's research while affiliated with Tsinghua University and other places

Publications (81)

Preprint
Tipping elements of the Earth system may shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another at tipping points, resulting in a growing threat to our society. Yet, it is not fully clear how to assess and quantify the influence of a tipping element and how to explore the teleconnections between different tipping elements. To fill this knowledge...
Article
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Using engineered wood for construction has been discussed for climate change mitigation. It remains unclear where and in which way the additional demand for wooden construction material shall be fulfilled. Here we assess the global and regional impacts of increased demand for engineered wood on land use and associated CO 2 emissions until 2100 usin...
Article
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Prudent risk management requires consideration of bad-to-worst-case scenarios. Yet, for climate change, such potential futures are poorly understood. Could anthropogenic climate change result in worldwide societal collapse or even eventual human extinction? At present, this is a dangerously underexplored topic. Yet there are ample reasons to suspec...
Article
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Day-to-day changes in CO2 emissions from human activities, in particular fossil-fuel combustion and cement production, reflect a complex balance of influences from seasonality, working days, weather and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we provide a daily CO2 emissions dataset for the whole year of 2020, calculated from inventory and nea...
Article
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We consider trends in the m seasonal subrecords of a record. To determine the statistical significance of the m trends, one usually determines the p value of each season either numerically or analytically and compares it with a significance level $${{\tilde{\alpha }}}$$ α ~ . We show in great detail for short- and long-term persistent records that...
Book
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Horizon Europe-New European Bauhaus Nexus Report Conclusions of the High-Level Workshop on ‘Research and Innovation for the New European Bauhaus’, jointly organised by DG Research and Innovation and the Joint Research Centre
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Despite the development of sophisticated statistical and dynamical climate models, a relative long-term and reliable prediction of the Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR) has remained a challenging problem. Towards achieving this goal, here we construct a series of dynamical and physical climate networks based on the global near surface air tempe...
Article
Network theory, as emerging from complex systems science, can provide critical predictive power for mitigating the global warming crisis and other societal challenges. Here we discuss the main differences of this approach to classical numerical modeling and highlight several cases where the network approach substantially improved the prediction of...
Article
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In the presence of a global pandemic (COVID-19), the relentless pressure on global decision-makers is to ensure a balancing of health (reduce mortality impacts), economic goals (income for livelihood sustenance), and environmental sustainability (stabilize GHG emissions long term). The global energy supply system is a dominant contributor to the GH...
Article
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Climate science provides strong evidence of the necessity of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. The IPCC 1.5°C special report (SR1.5) presents 414 emissions scenarios modelled for the report, of which around 50 are classified as '1.5°C scenarios', with no or low temperature overshoot. These emission scenario...
Article
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Background The health impacts of ambient air pollution impose large costs on society. Although all people are exposed to air pollution, the older population (ie, those aged ≥60 years) tends to be disproportionally affected. As a result, there is growing concern about the health impacts of air pollution as many countries undergo rapid population age...
Preprint
Full-text available
The diurnal cycle CO$_2$ emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production reflect seasonality, weather conditions, working days, and more recently the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, for the first time we provide a daily CO$_2$ emission dataset for the whole year of 2020 calculated from inventory and near-real-time activity data (...
Article
As national efforts to reduce CO2 emissions intensify, policy-makers need increasingly specific, subnational information about the sources of CO2 and the potential reductions and economic implications of different possible policies. This is particularly true in China, a large and economically diverse country that has rapidly industrialized and urba...
Chapter
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The working group consists of glaciologists, climate scientists, meteorologists, hydrologists, physicists, chemists, mountaineers, and lawyers organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican, to contemplate the observed retreat of the mountain glaciers, its causes and consequences. This report resulted from a workshop in April 2011 a...
Chapter
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Over the past century, the total material wealth of humanity has been enhanced. However, in the twenty-first century, we face scarcity in critical resources, the degradation of ecosystem services, and the erosion of the planet’s capability to absorb our wastes. Equity issues remain stubbornly difficult to solve. This situation is novel in its speed...
Chapter
Stratigraphy provides insights into the evolution and dynamics of the Earth System over its long history. With recent developments in Earth System science, changes in Earth System dynamics can now be observed directly and projected into the near future. An integration of the two approaches provides powerful insights into the nature and significance...
Article
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Tree-ring chronologies are the main source for annually resolved and absolutely dated temperature reconstructions of the last millennia and thus for studying the intriguing problem of climate impacts. Here we focus on central Europe and compare the tree-ring based temperature reconstruction with reconstructions from harvest dates, long meteorologic...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting human activities, and in turn energy use and carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. Here we present daily estimates of country-level CO2 emissions for different sectors based on near-real-time activity data. The key result is an abrupt 8.8% decrease in global CO₂ emissions (−1551 Mt CO₂) in the first half of 2020 compare...
Article
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Global warming, extreme climate events, earthquakes and their accompanying socioeconomic disasters pose significant risks to humanity. Yet due to the nonlinear feedbacks, multiple interactions and complex structures of the Earth system, the understanding and, in particular, the prediction of such disruptive events represent formidable challenges to...
Preprint
Full-text available
Global climate change, extreme climate events, earthquakes and their accompanying natural disasters pose significant risks to humanity. Yet due to the nonlinear feedbacks, strategic interactions and complex structure of the Earth system, the understanding and in particular the predicting of such disruptive events represent formidable challenges for...
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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Social media summary Lessons from the corona crisis can help manage the even more daunting challenge of anthropogenic global warming.
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Significance Collective risks trigger social dilemmas that require balancing selfish interests and common good. One important example is mitigating climate change, wherein without sufficient investments, worldwide negative consequences become increasingly likely. To study the social aspects of this problem, we organized a game experiment that revea...
Chapter
Human well-being results from multiple interactions between highly diverse issues and actors. Crucial factors range from basic hygiene to social cohesion and environmental integrity. In this century, the development of a critical triangle of challenges—consisting of climate change, public health, and social peace—will determine whether a good life...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background The health impacts of ambient air pollution impose large costs on society. While all people are exposed to air pollution, older individuals tend to be disproportionally affected. As a result, there is growing concern about the public health impacts of air pollution as many countries undergo rapid population ageing. We investigated the sp...
Preprint
Full-text available
Assessing the impacts of COVID-19 are of paramount importance for global sustainability. Using a coordinated set of high-resolution sectoral assessment tools, we report a decrease of 4.2% in global CO$_2$ emission in first quarter of 2020. Our emission estimates reflect near real time inventories of emissions from power generation, transportation,...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Indian summer monsoon rainfall (ISMR) has a decisive influence on India's agricultural output and economy. Extreme deviations from the normal seasonal amount of rainfall can cause severe droughts or floods, affecting Indian food production and security. Despite the development of sophisticated statistical and dynamical climate models, a long-te...
Article
Full-text available
[view-only OPEN ACCESS version of the article is available at https://rdcu.be/b0xn4] Global agriculture puts heavy pressure on planetary boundaries, posing the challenge to achieve future food security without compromising Earth system resilience. On the basis of process-detailed, spatially explicit representation of four interlinked planetary boun...
Article
The anticipated growth and urbanization of the global population over the next several decades will create a vast demand for the construction of new housing, commercial buildings and accompanying infrastructure. The production of cement, steel and other building materials associated with this wave of construction will become a major source of green...
Article
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Significance Achieving a rapid global decarbonization to stabilize the climate critically depends on activating contagious and fast-spreading processes of social and technological change within the next few years. Drawing on expert elicitation, an expert workshop, and a review of literature, which provides a comprehensive analysis on this topic, we...
Article
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Earth System Science (ESS) is a rapidly emerging transdisciplinary endeavour aimed at understanding the structure and functioning of the Earth as a complex, adaptive system. Here, we discuss the emergence and evolution of ESS, outlining the importance of these developments in advancing our understanding of global change. Inspired by early work on b...
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Urban activities have profound and lasting effects on the global carbon balance. Here we develop a consistent metabolic approach that combines two complementary carbon accounts, the physical carbon balance and the fossil fuel-derived gaseous carbon footprint, to track carbon coming into, being added to urban stocks, and eventually leaving the city....
Article
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is one of the most prominent interannual climate phenomena. Early and reliable ENSO forecasting remains a crucial goal, due to its serious implications for economy, society, and ecosystem. Despite the development of various dynamical and statistical prediction models in the recent decades, the “spring predict...
Article
The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions. The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions. A plane flying over a river of meltwater on glacier in Alaska
Book
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In the report “Towards Our Common Digital Future”, the WBGU makes it clear that sustainability strategies and concepts need to be fundamentally further developed in the age of digitalization. Only if digital change and the Transformation towards Sustainability are synchronized can we succeed in advancing climate and Earth-system protection and in m...
Preprint
The El Ni\~no Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most important driver of climate variability and can trigger extreme weather events and disasters in various parts of the globe. Recently we have developed a network approach, which allows forecasting an El Ni\~no event about 1 year ahead. Here we communicate that since 2012 this network approach, wh...
Technical Report
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Die neue EU-Kommissionspräsidentin hat einen Green Deal für Europa angekündigt. Dieser kann nur gelingen, wenn Chancen und Risiken der Digitalisierung für eine grundlegende Transformation von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft berücksichtigt werden. Der WBGU entwickelt hier Eckpunkte eines europäischen Wegs in eine gemeinsame digitale Zukunft: In ihrer qu...
Technical Report
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The new European Commission president has announced a Green Deal for Europe. This can only succeed if opportunities and risks of digitalization for a fundamental transformation of the economy and society are taken into account. In this paper, the WBGU develops cornerstones of a European way to a common digital future. The EU’s cross-cutting sustain...
Preprint
Full-text available
The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is one of the most prominent interannual climate phenomena. An early and reliable ENSO forecasting remains a crucial goal, due to its serious implications for economy, society, and ecosystem. Despite the development of various dynamical and statistical prediction models in the recent decades, the ``spring pre...
Book
Full-text available
Das WBGU-Gutachten „Unsere gemeinsame digitale Zukunft“ macht deutlich, dass Nachhaltigkeitsstrategien und -konzepte im Zeitalter der Digitalisierung grundlegend weiterentwickelt werden müssen. Nur wenn der digitale Wandel und die Transformation zur Nachhaltigkeit konstruktiv verzahnt werden, kann es gelingen, Klima- und Erdsystemschutz sowie sozia...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, air pollution has caused more than 1 million deaths per year in China, making it a major focus of public health efforts. However, future climate change may exacerbate such human health impacts by increasing the frequency and duration of weather conditions that enhance air pollution exposure. Here, we use a combination of climate, a...
Technical Report
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Das Hochrangige Politische Forum für Nachhaltige Entwicklung der Vereinten Nationen ist die entscheidende UN-Plattform zur Koordinierung der globalen Nachhaltigkeitspolitik und ein wichtiger Adressat für den Umgang mit den Potenzialen und Risiken des digitalen Wandels für die Erreichung der UN-Nachhaltigkeitsziele. Digitalisierung verändert die Mög...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development is the UN’s key platform for coordinating global sustainability policy and an important addressee for issues relating to the potential benefits and risks of digital change for achieving the UN sustainability goals. Digitalization fundamentally changes the range of options av...
Chapter
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Der Bericht „Unsere gemeinsame digitale Zukunft“ macht deutlich, dass Nachhaltigkeitsstrategien und -konzepte im Zeitalter der Digitalisierung grundlegend weiterentwickelt werden müssen. Nur wenn der digitale Wandel und die Transformation zur Nachhaltigkeit synchronisiert werden kann es gelingen, Klima- und Erdsystemschutz sowie soziale Fortschritt...
Chapter
Full-text available
‘Digitalization’ is often described as a huge upheaval facing our societies to which we must adapt. The WBGU opposes this interpretation, saying that digitalization must be shaped in such a way that it can serve as a lever and support for the Great Transformation towards Sustainability, and can be synchronized with it. Just as in 1987 the Brundtlan...
Article
Full-text available
Global climate warming poses a significant challenge to humanity; it is associated with, e.g., rising sea level and declining Arctic sea ice. Increasing extreme events are also considered to be a result of climate warming, and they may have widespread and diverse effects on health, agriculture, economics, and political conflicts. Still, the detecti...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Limiting global warming to well below 2°C requires the rapid decarbonization of the global economy. If this enterprise fails, we will jeopardize the life-support systems of future generations. The longer the transformation towards climate compatibility is delayed, the more severe the risks and damage will be for a growing number of people. The tran...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Die Begrenzung der globalen Erwärmung auf deutlich unter 2 °C erfordert eine rapide Dekarbonisierung der Weltwirtschaft. Scheitert dieses Vorhaben, setzen wir die Lebensgrundlagen künftiger Generationen aufs Spiel. Je länger die Transformation zur Klimaverträglichkeit verschleppt wird, desto gravierender werden die Risiken und Schäden für eine wach...
Book
Full-text available
Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that will either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential, unless carbon emissions are rapidly reduced. Special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management practice are required if the increased like...
Article
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In May-June 2016 the Canadian Province of Alberta suffered one of the most devastating wildfires in its history. Here we show that in mid-April to early May 2016 the large-scale circulation in the mid- and high troposphere of the middle and sub-polar latitudes of the northern hemisphere featured a persistent high-amplitude planetary wave structure...
Article
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We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a "Hothouse Earth" pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher...
Preprint
Full-text available
Global climate warming poses a significant challenge to humanity; it is associated with, e.g., rising sea level and declining Arctic sea ice. Increasing extreme events are also considered to be a result of climate warming~\cite{pachauri2014climate,ogorman_contrasting_2014} and they may have widespread and diverse effects on health, agriculture, eco...
Article
Full-text available
As national efforts to reduce CO2 emissions intensify, policy-makers need increasingly specific, subnational information about the sources of CO2 and the potential reductions and economic implications of different possible policies. This is particularly true in China, a large and economically diverse country that has rapidly industrialized and urba...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A major technical revolution is underway. How will it change the coexistence of humankind on this planet? What goals will it serve? What opportunities and risks does it involve? Who will gain or lose power in its wake? How can it be used to solve humankind´s great challenges? The WBGU believes it is essential to shape digitalization with a view to...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Eine große technische Revolution ist im Gang. Wie wird sie das Zusammenleben der Menschheit auf diesem Planeten verändern? Welchen Zielen wird sie dienen? Welche Chancen und Risiken bringt sie mit sich? Wem wird sie Macht verleihen oder nehmen? Wie kann sie genutzt werden, um die großen Menschheitsherausforderungen zu lösen? Der WBGU hält es für e...