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7 Tipping Points That Could Transform Earth

7 Tipping Points That Could Transform Earth

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Published by Jed Diamond
I've been writing a good deal about the coming transformations that we all face. We are likely reaching a number of "tipping points" and we need to pay attention and continue to influence our world leaders to make changes that will save lives.

“The problem with tipping elements is that if any of them tips, it will be a real catastrophe. None of them are small,” said Anders Levermann, a climate physicist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
I've been writing a good deal about the coming transformations that we all face. We are likely reaching a number of "tipping points" and we need to pay attention and continue to influence our world leaders to make changes that will save lives.

“The problem with tipping elements is that if any of them tips, it will be a real catastrophe. None of them are small,” said Anders Levermann, a climate physicist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Jed Diamond on Jan 24, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/12/2011

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7 Tipping Points That Could TransformEarth
 
7 Tipping Points That Could TransformEarth
December 23, 2009 |
12:40 pm |
Categories:Earth Science,Environment 
When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issue its last report in 2007,environmental tipping points were a footnote. A troubling footnote, to be sure, but thescience was relatively new and unsettled. Straightforward global warming was enough toworry about.But when the IPCC meets in 2014, tipping points — or tipping elements, in academicvernacular — will get much more attention. Scientists still disagree about which planetary systems are extra-sensitive to climate shifts, but the possibility can’t be ignored.“The problem with tipping elements is that if any of them tips, it will be a realcatastrophe. None of them are small,” said Anders Levermann, a climate physicist at thePotsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
 
Levermann’s article on potential disruptions of South Asia’s monsoon cycles wasfeatured in aseries of tipping element research reviews, published December 8 in the
 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
.Also discussed were ocean circulation, polar icecaps, Amazon rainforests, seafloor methane deposits and a west African dustbowl. Each is stressed by rising planetarytemperatures. Some are less likely than others to tip; some might not be able to tip at all.Ambiguities, probabilities a limited grasp of Earth’s complex systems are inherent to thescience. But if any tip, it will be an epic disaster.Wired Science takes you on a tour.
 Image: Earth’s Eastern and Western Hemispheres/NASA
. ———-
Polar Sea Ice
Dwindling Arctic sea ice and crumbling Antarctic ice sheets are now a common sight.Whether they signal an impending tip, with rapid melts causing Earth’s seas to inundateheavily-populated coastal plains, is debated.The process appears to accelerate itself: Warming ice melts, which exposes darker areas,causing local temperatures to rise further. But in the Arctic, another feedback may

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