22 Sep 2023
 | 22 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Rate-induced tipping cascades arising from interactions between the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

Ann Kristin Klose, Jonathan F. Donges, Ulrike Feudel, and Ricarda Winkelmann

Abstract. The Greenland Ice Sheet and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation are considered tipping elements in the climate system, where global warming exceeding critical threshold levels in forcing can lead to large-scale and nonlinear reductions in ice volume and overturning strength, respectively. The positive-negative feedback loop governing their interaction (with a destabilizing effect on the AMOC due to ice loss and subsequent freshwater flux into the North Atlantic as well as a stabilizing effect of a net-cooling around Greenland with an AMOC weakening) may determine the long-term stability of both tipping elements. Here we explore the potential dynamic regimes arising from this positive-negative tipping feedback loop in a process-based conceptual model. Under idealized forcing scenarios we identify conditions under which different kinds of tipping cascades can occur: Herein, we distinguish between overshoot tipping cascades (leading to tipping of both GIS and AMOC) and rate-induced tipping cascades (where the AMOC despite not having crossed its own intrinsic tipping point tips nonetheless due to the fast rate of ice loss from Greenland). These different cascades occur within corridors of distinct tipping pathways that are affected by the GIS melting patterns and thus eventually by the imposed forcing and its time scales. Our results suggest that it is not only necessary to avoid breaching the respective critical levels of the environmental drivers for the Greenland Ice Sheet and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, but also to respect safe rates of environmental change to mitigate potential domino effects.

Ann Kristin Klose 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-2023-20', Anonymous Referee #1, 13 Oct 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2023-20', Anonymous Referee #2, 27 Oct 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on esd-2023-20', Anonymous Referee #3, 08 Nov 2023

Ann Kristin Klose et al.

Ann Kristin Klose et al.


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Short summary
We qualitatively study the long-term stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet and AMOC as tipping elements in the Earth system, which is largely unknown given their interaction in a positive-negative feedback loop. Depending on the time scales of ice loss and the position of the AMOC’s state relative to its critical threshold, we find distinct dynamic regimes of cascading tipping. These suggest that respecting safe rates of environmental change is necessary to mitigate potential domino effects.