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 Do ice cores help to unravel the clouds of climate history?
21.06.2019 | Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS)

nachricht News from the diamond nursery
21.06.2019 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IDMT demonstrates its method for acoustic quality inspection at »Sensor+Test 2019« in Nürnberg

From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.

Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap

Im Focus: Successfully Tested in Praxis: Bidirectional Sensor Technology Optimizes Laser Material Deposition

The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.

Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Sneezing' plants contribute to disease proliferation

24.06.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Researchers find new mutation in the leptin gene

24.06.2019 | Life Sciences

Non-invasive view into the heart

24.06.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>