expert reaction to review of climate tipping points


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A review published in Nature looks at overshooting tipping point thresholds in a changing climate.

Prof Grant Allen, Professor of Atmospheric Physics, University of Manchester, said:

“Tipping points are often thought of as sudden points of no return in the climate system, where climate-critical elements such as ocean circulation (e.g. the Gulf Stream), ice sheet loss, and Amazon rainforest dieback become suddenly unstoppable past some critical threshold of climate warming. This study shows that it may not be accurate to think of such shifts as being sudden and irreversible – at least over short timescales (of several years). It tells us that dramatic wholesale shifts in climate dynamics such as permanent changes in ocean circulation may not become immediately irreversible if climate warming exceeds some critical temperature threshold temporarily. This may offer a very tiny bit of wiggle room in our expectations of when such dire climate shifts might become permanent and extremely damaging as Earth continues to warm. But we also need to be extremely clear about what this study means, and does not in any way suggest otherwise – which is that global warming remains a clear and present danger, is already causing extreme damage, and continues at pace.



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