glacier_greenland_or.thumbnail.jpg

Earth’s climate will slip past “tipping point” within 100 years

Article Updated: 26 Dec , 2015

by

Nine key geographical factors have been highlighted as Earth’s critical climate controllers most at risk of slipping past their “tipping points”. This means that once damage reaches a certain point, there can be no recovery; the damage will continue in a downward spiral, amplifying global warming and environmental damage on historic scales. And as if climate news couldn’t get any worse, one such tipping point is only a year away… 

You can’t move these days for articles about climate change, global warming and environmental disasters. All this talk about impending doom and gloom can often lull you into a detached reverie thinking “what the hell can I do about it anyway?” Although sometimes the outlook seems hopeless, scientists are stepping up a gear to understand what is happening and why humans are having such an impact on our world. In the quest to understand the effects we are having on the planet, new research has drawn up a list of nine key factors and processes likely to change the Earth’s climate most dramatically. It is hoped that once we understand how these processes work, and how long we have until the point of no return, action could be taken to allow the climate to heal.

Prof. Tim Lenton from the University of East Anglia, UK, has identified when the tipping points are likely to occur for the nine key geological factors, and the next one is most likely going to be the collapse of the Indian summer monsoon, which is variable at best. The list is as follows (plus predicted time to tipping point):

  • Arctic sea-ice melt (approx 10 years)
  • Greenland ice sheet decay (more than 300 years)
  • West Antarctic ice sheet decay (more than 300 years)
  • Atlantic thermohaline circulation collapse (approx 100 years)
  • El Nino Southern Oscillation increase (approx 100 years)
  • Indian summer monsoon collapse (approx 1 year)
  • Sahara/Sahel greening and West African monsoon disruption (approx 10 years)
  • Amazon rainforest dieback (approx 50 years)
  • Boreal Forest dieback (approx 50 years)

Many of the factors seem obvious. The melting of the Arctic ice for instance will cause a global rise in sea levels and a loss of ice cover causing Earth’s albedo to decrease (reflectivity decreases), amplifying the greenhouse effect. Also, El Nino in the South Pacific will occur more often, causing rapid and extreme changes in the large-scale weather structure; hurricanes, flooding, droughts and unseasonal shifts in the jet stream will become more and more common.

Some of the factors are perhaps less obvious. For instance, the collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation would have a counter-intuitive effect on the north Atlantic, actually cooling the waters around Europe, North America and the Arctic. The thermohaline drives the circulation of the oceans, so should the Atlantic thermohaline collapse, water from the equator will stop drifting north, providing the warmth at such high latitudes. This effect is unlikely to slow the melting of the Arctic ice-sheets, but it will have devastating effects on biodiversity in the region.

Society must not be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change […] 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.” – Prof Lenton

Although worrying, many of the tipping point projections could be averted should strong action be taken by the international community and individuals alike – after all, we can all contribute in some way.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jessika Forsberg
Guest
Jessika Forsberg
February 5, 2008 3:15 AM

People all over the world are slow to change. They dont understand that the climate situation is in such risk, unless most people know it. There should be some sort of international alarm news, that really makes people realize how serious it is, and that we all have to change our lifestyle radically right now, before it is too late. Surely it is a better option for people to change their lifestyle rather than to let the climate and the resulting disastrous effects, take control of our fate.

john
Guest
john
February 5, 2008 5:02 AM

Do these models have chaotic factors included or have they been statistically removed, or smoothed out of calculation?

chrts
Guest
chrts
February 5, 2008 5:04 AM

consuming and greed brought us to what we look at now, the righteous are always few, masses are blind to what is right or bad.
goodluck humand kind

Natasha Mellor
Guest
February 5, 2008 12:15 PM

Option 1
Firm controls on human births, very unlikely as Europe can’t even control its borders (immigration)
Option 2
Seriously adapt to a simpler way of life reducing carbon emissions etc. very unlikely as the rich & posh stock of life will unexcept the new way of life.
Option 3
Relocate to another galaxy LOL

TheSxR
Member
TheSxR
February 5, 2008 5:30 AM

I still can’t see the connection with man kind and climate change, there are clearly cycles going back millions of years, we are currently sitting on a 100,00 year high. CO2 levels are a response to climate change not a cause – (if it was a cause then the massive increase in CO2 mankind has caused would have had an enormous difference, not just the 1 or 2 degrees we measure today) – I think Canute set a good example.

Name
Guest
Name
February 5, 2008 5:54 AM

…hurricanes, flooding, “checkers” and unseasonal shifts…

perhaps you meant “droughts”?

kcuhC
Member
February 5, 2008 6:23 AM
With no solid scientific proof that mankind is in any way responsible for global warming, so many are ready to crush the economies of the great nations and trap the third world nations in poverty. They can’t tell us with any confidence what the weather will be next week, yet using computer models written by those with agendas, assumptions and ignorance, we’ll confidently look forward dozens and hundreds of years. The Earth has cooled and warmed before, it will do it again. There are cycles we are just learning about. While it is possible mankind could be impacting a cycle, we need proof. Lastly, given the long history of climate change on this planet (far exceeding human history),… Read more »
jamey
Guest
jamey
February 5, 2008 7:44 AM
It is time to stop bickering and start doing something – climate change is real, regardless of its source. Tipping points are chaotic and certainly real too. The irony is that practical solutions to these short-term tipping points (Indian monsoon collapse and chaotic change to central African climate patterns) will benefit those economies directly – these societies cannot survive intact unless other countries help buffer the impacts of their droughts. The future is with alternative energy sources, we can’t afford to waste time arguing about anthropogenic vs non-anthro (causation may be irrelevant and a waste of time). The change here is not towards more Bono “awareness concerts” and US gov’t setting up “development funds” but a fundamental change… Read more »
ceelaqoday
Guest
ceelaqoday
February 5, 2008 8:08 AM

can anybody explain to what does Sahara/sahel greeninig mean? Does it mean a reversal of the desertification?

K
Guest
K
February 5, 2008 8:16 AM
You know, I cared in the 70s when it was drilled into our heads. I cared so much that there is no, “are you green enough,” test I can’t pass. I don’t run the water when I brush my teeth, stopped using regular light bulbs YEARS ago. Guess how much I care about Global Warming now? I don’t. Not even a little bit. It’s been proven to me for over 30 years now that I have nothing to do with it. It’s not in my control. As a matter of fact, my 60 something cousin once removed said that they were warned about Global Warming when SHE was a kid in the 50s. There is nothing we can… Read more »
Peter
Member
Peter
February 5, 2008 8:54 AM
Wow, ignorant people do so like to rant. I know these responses don’t represent the cross section of people who come to this blog, thank goodness. Yes, go ahead, make excuses for your behaviour. It’s business, not people, who cause it. Right, and businesses aren’t run by people. And businesses don’t respond to what people are telling them en masse. Yes, our governments need to be heavily involved so that business is forced to change…but unless we put pressure on them, they will certainly do nothing. And saying climate change is natural and that we aren’t causing it is the height of hubris. You’re right, you are smarter, better informed and make it your life’s work to know.… Read more »
leafguy
Member
February 5, 2008 9:09 AM
Bottom line, we don’t have any records to prove what cycles the earth has gone through and what it will go through. Im sure humans aren’t helping by dumping extra C02 into the atmosphere, but I can ask people to prove me wrong by asking what exactly is happening and prove that it hasn’t happened in the past as a natural cycle and they can’t. And even in this article, people don’t see the facts. Atlantic thermohaline circulation collapse (approx 100 years). This will in fact cool temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere with no currents to drive warmer water up. This will result in a deep freeze in the northern hemisphere. So much for global warming.
leafguy
Member
February 5, 2008 9:11 AM
Bottom line, we don’t have any records to prove what cycles the earth has gone through and what it will go through. Im sure humans aren’t helping by dumping extra C02 into the atmosphere, but I can ask people to prove me wrong by asking what exactly is happening and prove that it hasn’t happened in the past as a natural cycle and they can’t. And even in this article, people don’t see the facts. Atlantic thermohaline circulation collapse (approx 100 years). This will in fact cool temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere with no currents to drive warmer water up. This will result in a deep freeze in the northern hemisphere. So much for global warming. Since the… Read more »
leafguy
Member
February 5, 2008 9:13 AM

I just don’t understand how dumb people can be by making claims about the future with no historical evidence to back it up. Shall I refer to science vs religion? Its like trying to prove the existance of god, which we all know has not been done.

leafguy
Member
February 5, 2008 9:15 AM

and Peter, Earth is physically able to sustain 12 billion people if we were all to eat on an equal level.

zero
Guest
zero
February 5, 2008 9:25 AM

If nothing is done to lower the human population by family planning and other humane ways, nothing can be done to solve ecological/economic disaster. And I would love to be wrong on this view. My opinion is based on simple math, not great knowledge of science. Please give me good evidence to prove I’m wrong about this!

Kullat Nunu
Guest
Kullat Nunu
February 5, 2008 10:39 AM
The melting of the Arctic ice for instance will cause a global rise in sea levels… Direct rise of sea levels will be minimal because Arctic ice is already on the ocean. But ice-free Arctic will naturally speed up melting in Greenland. Atlantic thermohaline circulation collapse (approx 100 years). This will in fact cool temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere with no currents to drive warmer water up. This will result in a deep freeze in the northern hemisphere. So much for global warming. Since the north will deep freeze, earths albedo will increase again, and then we are back to a nice cold earth. Let’s see… first global warming disrupts weather patterns in tropical and temperate regions resulting… Read more »
Giz
Member
Giz
February 5, 2008 10:44 AM

We are living on an energy debt of 150 million years, built up in about 150 years (for the sake of easy numbers). That can’t be repaid year by year.

It is wonderful that we live in an age where we can understand this and marvel at how small and insignificant we are.

It is far too late to do anything meaningful about it.

wiseguy
Member
wiseguy
February 5, 2008 10:48 AM
As long as mankind is controlled by their animal instincts we will never change.The only way we are ever going to truly move forward is to reign the animal inside us that halts our evolution with the tool called fear.Fear is illogical hence the human animal is illogical because it constantly lives in fear of change or fear of the unknown until it destroys us.The only way humans will evolve is to restore the balance that once was in our mind and body.Restoring the balance between the animal and the human.The balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.The omega 3 is the human and the omega 6 is the animal and it is the animal that… Read more »
wiseguy
Member
wiseguy
February 5, 2008 10:57 AM

By restoring the balance of mind we will restore the balance of nature.

wpDiscuz