Guest Lecture – Dim Coumou: Global Warming and Climate Risks (January 24, 2018)

In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, the impact of global warming became increasingly apparent, for example, extreme weather events are on the increase, sea level is rising, and coral reefs exhibit massive bleaching events. These impacts of climate change occur at a time when international political negotiations have entered a new phase: while the Paris agreement was an important step forward, the withdrawal of the USA from the agreement provides new political uncertainty.

In this lecture, Dim Coumou will present the basic underlying physics of climate change, for example, the greenhouse effect, how it affects the climate system, and what type of impacts are to be expected. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have warmed the Earth and are causing wide-ranging impacts, including rising sea levels, melting snow and ice, and more extreme heat events leading to fires, droughts, storms, rainfall, and floods. These trends will continue and in many cases accelerate, posing significant risks to human safety and health, to our forests, agriculture, freshwater supplies, coastlines, and other natural resources that are vital to our economy, environment, and our quality of life. In order to limit future climate impacts, global warming should remain below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. We will discuss the level of CO2 emission reductions and associated the energy transitions needed to reach this target.

Dim Coumou is a climate scientist with a MSc in geophysics (2001) and a PhD in natural sciences from the ETH Zurich (2008) for which he received the ETH medal for an outstanding PhD thesis (top 5% only). He is currently associate professor for Extreme Weather and Climate Change at VU Amsterdam, Department of Water and Climate Risk, and also research group leader at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Department of Earth System Analyses. Coumou’s main research interest is to understand how global warming affects the number and intensity of extreme weather events like heat waves, heavy rainfall, storms, and persistent droughts. To gain new insights, a variety of methods are used in his research group including advanced statistical analyses, climate models, and novel machine learning techniques. His work is regularly covered in leading international media outlets, for example, the Guardian, Washington Post, Nature, and WIRED. He has received research grants from the German Science Foundation, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Dutch National Science Foundation, the Volkswagen Foundation, and Climate-KIC. He has done joint projects with several high-level stakeholders (e.g., the World Bank, African Development Bank, Munich RE), which ensures that his research focuses on the most relevant extremes, that is, those with the highest risks for society. He has authored over 45 peer-reviewed publications, with several in top-ranking journals, the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, three World Bank reports, and several book chapters.

The Guest Lecture Series of Professor Ingeborg Reichle’s lecture The World in Change: Introduction to Societal Transformation Processes opens up a comprehensive and wide-ranging perspective on global challenges that our societies are facing today: In our rapidly changing world we are currently challenged by unprecedented dynamic processes on a global scale, such as climate change, demographic change, mass migration, dwindling resources, violation of human rights, social inequality and poverty, mass unemployment and the redefinition of human work in the era of digitalization, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The lecture series is an informative and stimulating opportunity for students to hear from leading academics and experts in the fields of image theory, climate change, cancer research, and personalized medicine and will help our students build their network of contacts.  Our guest lectures are open to all.

Public Lecture
24.01.2018, 13:45 – 17:00 Uhr
Abteilung Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
Hintere Zollamtsstraße 17
1030 Wien
Seminarraum, 4. Stock