Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-7
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-7

  25 Feb 2021

25 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Abrupt climate change as rate-dependent cascading tipping point

Johannes Lohmann1, Daniele Castellana2, Peter D. Ditlevsen1, and Henk A. Dijkstra2 Johannes Lohmann et al.
  • 1Physics of Ice, Climate and Earth, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Abstract. We propose a conceptual model comprising a cascade of tipping points as a mechanism for past abrupt climate changes. In the model, changes in a control parameter, which could for instance be related to changes in the atmospheric circulation, induce sequential tipping of sea-ice cover and the ocean's meridional overturning circulation. The ocean component, represented by the well-known Stommel box model, is shown to display so-called rate-induced tipping. Here, an abrupt resurgence of the overturning circulation is induced before a bifurcation point is reached due to the fast rate of change of the sea-ice. During the rate-induced transition, the system is attracted by the stable manifold of a saddle. This results in a significant delay of the tipping if the system spends longer periods of time in the vicinity of the saddle before escaping towards the alternative state of a vigorous overturning circulation. The delay opens up the possibility for an early warning of the impending abrupt transition by detecting the change in linear stability. We propose early warning by estimating properties of the Jacobian from the noisy time series, which are shown to be useful as a generic precursor to detect rate-induced tipping.

Johannes Lohmann et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-7', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Mar 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2021-7', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Apr 2021

Johannes Lohmann et al.

Johannes Lohmann et al.

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Short summary
Tipping of one climate subsystem could trigger a cascade of subsequent tipping points and even global-scale climate tipping. Sequential shifts of atmosphere, sea ice and ocean have been recorded in proxy archives of past climate change. Based on this we propose a conceptual model for abrupt climate changes of the last glacial. Here, rate-induced tipping enables tipping cascades in systems with relatively weak coupling. An early-warning signal is proposed that may detect such a tipping.
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