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Societal resilience and climate extremes

Societal resilience and climate extremes

Collage AG Societal resilience and climate extremes

Climate extremes are one of the major future threats to society, as recognized by several international bodies. Yet, it is difficult to conceive the question: “Which instabilities, tipping points and risk cascades are most likely emerging from the interaction of future climate extremes with ecological and societal systems?” There is lack of systematic assessment which modelling approaches and data from various disciplines can be used to better constrain this question. In addition, climate extremes are usually defined with extreme weather events in mind, while risks to society emerge as well from longer-term (e.g. decadal) extreme climatic conditions, including slow onset events.

Thus, the key goal of this working group is to envision how far the German and international scientific community may come in the next 5-10 years to answer the above question, addressing the following specific goals:

  • Enter into a dialogue with relevant stakeholders on existing and desired models for an optimized decision making in this context. Clarify the missing key elements.
  • Analyze appropriate and achievable approaches and methods of coupling socio-economic and behavioral models with climate and ecological models for being capable of indicating the risk of extreme impacts on social-ecological systems.
  • Elaborate how to leverage existing data for model improvement (from plausibility check to hypothesis testing to data assimilation), and how to acquire new data.
  • Identify what climate extremes are most threatening to social-ecological system and what metrics are most useful risk indicators across time-scales?
  • Envision high-level strategies of how societal resilience can be enhanced in light of the identified risk cascades.


Working group members

Prof. Dr. Markus Reichstein (AG lead), Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Jörn Birkmann, Universität Stuttgart

Dr. Frank Kreienkamp, Deutscher Wetterdienst

Prof. Dr. Mojib Latif, GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel

Petra Mahrenholz, KomPass – Kompetenzzentrum Klimafolgen und Anpassung, Umweltbundesamt

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ortwin Renn, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Scheffran, Universität Hamburg

Prof. Dr. Gerrit Jasper Schenk, TU Darmstadt

Dr. Kirsten Thonicke, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Potsdam


Time period: 2017-2019


Working group spokesperson:

Prof. Dr. Markus Reichstein
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Department of Biogeochemical Integration
E-mail: mreichstein@bgc-jena.mpg.de


Expected output:

  • Expert workshop addressing main research question (2018 with approx. 30 participants)
  • Strategic publication describing results of main research question (→ development of a new national research strategy)
  • Build via new interdisciplinary collaboration the critical mass for bigger funding proposals (upcoming calls by H2020, BMBF calls, Belmont Forum or other funders, VW Herrenhäuser Konferenz etc.)


Meetings (by invitation):


  • 6.10.2017: Deadline for proposals!

    Guidelines to propose a working group of German Committee Future Earth

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