Disastrous Climate Change Could Come Fast with Tipping Points

Sudden climate jumps in recent prehistoric Earth history indicates that current climate change could create similar sudden unpredictable shifts by pushing beyond ecological tipping points, says Earth systems scientist Tim Lenton at the University of East Anglia, reports Fred Guteri at Scientific American. Tim identifies 9 weather system scenarios that could create sudden climate shifts: the first two involve the strengthening or complete shutdown of Indian monsoons, creating catastrophic flooding, already seen, or droughts. Complete disappearance of summer arctic sea ice  would hasten heating of theArctic and the Greenland ice sheet, tipping points 3 and 4. The complete meltdown of Greenland ice would raise sealevels dramatically, and upset oceanic currents enough to dramatically alter European climate, points 5 and 6.    Point 7, the destruction of the Amazon rainforest via droughts and man, would stop warm moist air feeding into current weather patterns, drastically altering regional air circulation, as would the destruction of the Canadian boreal forest by drought and wildfires, tipping point 8.  The final tipping point is when these tipping points begin re-inforcing each other. Imagine a cascade of disastrous ecological dominoes.  It could all happen fast.


http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-worlds-weather-could-quickly-run-amok  How the world’s weather could quickly run amok. In the world of climate modelers, the true gloomsters are scientists who look at climate through the lens of “dynamical systems,” a mathematics that describes things that tend to change suddenly and are difficult to predict. It is the mathematics of the tipping point—the moment at which a “system” that has been changing slowly and predictably will suddenly “flip.” Scientific American


About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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