Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

‘Tipping points’ could come this century

05.02.2008
A number of key components of the earth’s climate system could pass their ‘tipping point’ this century, according to new research led by a scientist at the University of East Anglia.

Published today by the prestigious international journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), the researchers have coined a new term, ‘tipping elements’, to describe those components of the climate system that are at risk of passing a tipping point.

The term ‘tipping point’ is used to describe a critical threshold at which a small change in human activity can have large, long-term consequences for the Earth’s climate system.

In this new research, lead author Prof Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia (UEA) and colleagues at the Postdam Institute of Climate Impact Research (PIK), Carnegie Mellon University, Newcastle University and Oxford University have drawn up a shortlist of nine tipping elements relevant to current policy-making and calculated where their tipping points could lie. All of them could be tipped within the next 100 years.

The nine tipping elements and the time it will take them to undergo a major transition are:

•Melting of Arctic sea-ice (approx 10 years)
•Decay of the Greenland ice sheet (more than 300 years)
•Collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (more than 300 years)
•Collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (approx 100 years)
•Increase in the El Nino Southern Oscillation (approx 100 years)
•Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon (approx 1 year)
•Greening of the Sahara/Sahel and disruption of the West African monsoon (approx 10 years)
•Dieback of the Amazon rainforest (approx 50 years)
•Dieback of the Boreal Forest (approx 50 years)
The paper also demonstrates how, in principle, early warning systems could be established using real-time monitoring and modelling to detect the proximity of certain tipping points.

“Society must not be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change,” said Prof Lenton.

“Our findings suggest that a variety of tipping elements could reach their critical point within this century under human-induced climate change. The greatest threats are tipping of the Arctic sea-ice and the Greenland ice sheet, and at least five other elements could surprise us by exhibiting a nearby tipping point.”

‘Tipping elements in the Earth’s climate system’ by Tim Lenton (UEA and Tyndall Centre), Hermann Held (PIK), Elmar Kriegler (Carnegie Mellon University and PIK), Jim Hall (Newcastle University and Tyndall Centre), Wolfgang Lucht (PIK), Stefan Rahmstorf (PIK) and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (PIK, Oxford University and Tyndall Centre) is published by PNAS in the week beginning Monday February 4.

The findings are based on a critical review of the literature, the results of a recent workshop held at the British Embassy in Berlin which brought together 36 international experts in the field, and an elicitation exercise involving a further 52 international experts.

Press Office | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uea.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>