Dr. Sarah Wolf

Senior Researcher
Green Growth



Tel. +49 30-2060738-11
Fax. +49 30-2060738-33


Global Climate Forum e.V. (GCF)
Neue Promenade 6
10178 Berlin, Germany

Research Interests

My research aims at a better understanding of win-win opportunities for climate policy, that is, mitigation measures which not only help avoid future climate change but also create more immediate benefits for the economy, for example in terms of growth or employment. Green growth, meaning sustainable development in the ecologic, economic and social dimension, summarizes such opportunities. Shifting from the current growth path to a green one would require a regime change in the economic system, or in terms of theory, a transition to a better equilibrium. With my background in mathematics (e.g. stochastic dynamical systems) and previous work on economic agent-based models, I am particularly interested in understanding the dynamics observed in agent-based models to study theoretical foundations of regime change dynamics in economic systems.


Projects and research activities



Researcher, Green Growth process


Coordinator and researcher of the German Green Growth Model

Since 2010 

Social energy – a line of discussions to investigate how the energy metaphor from the physics context can help understand dynamics in social systems. Initiated within the Global Systems Dynamics & Policy (GSDP) network, the two-track discussion has been carried out online and via various meetings, among which a satellite workshop at the European Conference on Complex Systems ECCCS'11.

2009 – 2012

Postdoc, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Project: A model of the German economy. 

Lagom regiO – Specification and implementation of a regionalized version of the economic ABM Lagom generiC (see here).

Lagom basiC – a simple economic ABM aiming at a better understanding of the system's dynamics.

2009 – 2011

CIRCE project. Climate Change and Impact Research: the Mediterranean Environment, contributions to Research Line 12 “Relevant Societal Dynamics”

2006 – 2009

PhD student, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, FAVAIA project.

Formalization of vulnerability and related concepts; Mathematics as a language to make structures explicit, for clarifying interdisciplinary communication; Comparison of vulnerability and risk assessments; Mathematical representations of uncertainty, in particular probability; Finitely additive probability monads.

PhD thesis: From Vulnerability Formalization to Finitely Additive Probability Monads
Advisor: Prof. R. Klein, Free University Berlin

The thesis presents a formal framework of vulnerability to climate change and relates it to the literature in the field. Motivated by this framework, probability is discussed as a tool to describe uncertainty, with its different interpretations and different mathematical representations. Among these are Kolmogorov’s standard probability axioms and De Finetti’s coherence conditions which entail merely finite additivity. In its most mathematical part, the thesis then draws a connection between category theory and probability. For the category theoretical concept of a monad, which is useful in representing dynamical systems with uncertainty, a generalization from Kolmogorov’s axioms to the more general finitely additive setting is presented (see here).

1998 – 2005 

“Diplom” Degree in Mathematics, Humboldt University Berlin
Specialization: probability theory. Minor: Italian (literature).

Diploma thesis: First exit times of the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck-type process driven by a symmetric Lévy process with a slowly tempered stable component
Advisor: Prof. P. Imkeller, Humboldt University Berlin

The thesis studies an exit law for trajectories of a randomly perturbed dynamical system, where the randomness is given by a Lévy process with a Gaussian and a slowly tempered α-stable component. The system models the motion of a particle subject to a small random noise in a quadratic one-well potential. Using probabilistic methods, the results are asymptotic estimations from above and below for the probability that the particle exits an interval after a given time in the limit of small perturbation.


Participant of the Mentoring programme for female Post docs of the Leibniz Association 

Mathematics and Culture

Participation at Conferences “Matematica e Cultura” Venice, 2005, 2006 and 2007

Translation of 4 articles in the conference proceedings 2006, in: Emmer, M. (Ed.) Mathematics and Culture VI, Springer, 2009.

Publication of a report about the 2005 conference in the journal of the German Mathematical Society.



Wolf, S., Fürst, S., Mandel, A., Lass, W., Lincke, D., Pablo-Martì, F., and Jaeger, C., 2013. A multi-agent model of several economic regions. Environmental Modeling and Software, 44, pp. 25-43.

Wolf, S., Bouchaud, J.-P., Cecconi, F., Cincotti, S., Dawid, H., Gintis, H., van der Hoog, S., Jaeger, C. C., Kovalevsky, D. V., Mandel, A., and Paroussos, L., 2013. Describing economic agent-based models – Dahlem ABM documentation guidelines.  Complexity Economics, 2, pp. 63-74.
A first version of the guidelines can be found here for reference.

Wolf, S., Hinkel, J., Hofmann, M., Bisaro, A., Lincke, D., Ionescu, C., and Klein, R. J. T., 2012. Clarifying vulnerability definitions and assessments using formalisation. International Journal for Climate Change Strategies and Management, 5(1),pp. 54-70.

Wolf, S. and Jaeger, C., 2013. Summary and Major Findings, Part IV People. Regional Assessment of Climate Change in the Mediterranean, Volume 2: Agriculture, Forests and Ecosystem Services and People. Navarra, A. and Tubiana, L. (Eds.), Springer.

Wolf, S., 2012. Vulnerability and Risk – Comparing Assessment Approaches. Natural Hazards, 61(3). DOI:10.1007/s11069-011-9968-4.

Wolf, S., Fürst, S., Mandel, A., Knell, S., Lass, W., Lincke, D., Teitge, J., and Jaeger, C., 2012. Two modes of scheduling in a simple economic agent-based model. SIMULTECH 2012 – Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Simulation and Modeling Methodologies, Technologies and Applications, Rome, Italy, 28 - 31 July, 2012.

Bisaro, A., Wolf, S., and Hinkel, J., 2010. Framing climate vulnerability and adaptation at multiple levels: addressing climate risks or institutional barriers in Lesotho? Climate and Development, 2(2).

Wolf, S., 2009. Vulnerability to Climate Change – Mathematics as a Language to Clarify Concepts. In: M. Emmer and A. Quarteroni (eds.), MATHKNOW2008, pp. 253–263. Springer, Milano.

Wolf, S., 2010. From Vulnerability Formalization to Finitely Additive Probability Monads. PhD thesis, Freie Universität Berlin.
http://www.diss.fu-berlin.de/diss/receive/FUDISS thesis 000000017286

Wolf, S., Lincke, D., Hinkel, J., Ionescu, C., and Bisaro, S., 2008. Concept Clarification and Computational Tools – A Formal Framework of Vulnerability. FAVAIA Working Paper 8, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. 

Wolf, S., Ionescu, C., Lincke, D., Bisaro, S., Hinkel, J., and Reckien, D., 2007. A Formal Framework of Vulnerability. Deliverable to the ADAM Project. FAVAIA Working Paper 6, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Wolf, S. 2006. Eine italienische Reise in die Mathematik und Kultur. DMV-Mitteilungen, 14(1):49–50.



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