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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-16
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2020-16
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  21 Apr 2020

21 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

ESD Reviews: mechanisms, evidence, and impacts of climate tipping elements

Seaver Wang and Zeke Hausfather Seaver Wang and Zeke Hausfather
  • The Breakthrough Institute, Oakland, 94612, United States

Abstract. Increasing attention is focusing upon climate tipping elements – large-scale earth systems anticipated to respond through positive feedbacks to anthropogenic climate change by shifting towards new long-term states. In some but not all cases, such changes could produce additional greenhouse gas emissions or radiative forcing that could compound global warming. Developing greater understanding of tipping elements is important for predicting future climate risks. Here we review mechanisms, predictions, impacts, and knowledge gaps associated with ten notable climate tipping elements. We also evaluate which tipping elements are more imminent and whether shifts will likely manifest rapidly or over longer timescales. Some tipping elements are significant to future global climate and will likely affect major ecosystems, climate patterns, and/or carbon cycling within the current century. However, assessments under different emissions scenarios indicate a strong potential to reduce or avoid impacts associated with many tipping elements through climate change mitigation. Most tipping elements do not possess the potential for abrupt future change within years, and some tipping elements are perhaps more accurately termed climate feedbacks. Nevertheless, significant uncertainties remain associated with many tipping elements, highlighting an acute need for further research and modeling to better constrain risks.

Seaver Wang and Zeke Hausfather

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Status: open (extended)
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AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Seaver Wang and Zeke Hausfather

Model code and software

FAIR simple model code and input data S. Wang and Z. Hausfather https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3726341

Seaver Wang and Zeke Hausfather

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Short summary
Climate tipping elements are generating increasing attention within the earth science community and the global public. Given their importance for informing future risks and optimal societal actions, promoting broader understanding of these systems can greatly benefit discussions in climate science. Reviewing the body of scientific literature on important climate tipping elements, we present the state of current research on each, discuss knowledge gaps, and explain projected impacts.
Climate tipping elements are generating increasing attention within the earth science community...
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