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Sep 9, 2022
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If global temperature rises by 1.5°C, there will be climate tipping points

If global temperature rises by 1.5°C, there will be climate tipping points

If global temperatures rise above 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, there will be multiple dangerous climate tipping points, a risk that increases significantly with every tenth degree of future warming, according to a major review study published in the journal Science. These findings provide strong scientific support for the Paris Agreement and related efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C, showing that the risk of tipping points increases above this level.

Summarizing data on tipping points, their temperature thresholds, timescales, and impacts from a comprehensive analysis of more than 200 scientific articles published since 2008, when the concept of “tipping points” was first introduced into the scientific lexicon and received a rigorous definition, the researchers found, that anthropogenic emissions have already brought our planet into a dangerous zone.

The analysis showed that five of the sixteen so far identified critical points could be caused even at today’s temperatures: the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, the widespread permafrost abrupt melt, the collapse of convection in the Labrador Sea, and the large-scale extinction of tropical coral reefs.

“We are already seeing signs of destabilization in parts of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, in permafrost regions, in the Amazon rainforest and possibly in the Atlantic Circulation,” said study lead author David Armstrong McKay, georesources analyst at the Stockholm Resilience Center. . “The world is already at risk of some tipping points. As global temperatures continue to rise, new tipping points are possible.”

According to Dr. McKay and his colleagues, the likelihood of crossing more tipping points can be reduced if greenhouse gas emissions are cut quickly and immediately. However, while the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the risk of climate tipping points becomes high at 2°C above pre-industrial and very high at 2.5-4°C, new analysis shows that our planet may have already left the “safe” climatic state, when the temperature exceeded only 1°C. So even if temperatures stop rising, once the ice sheets, oceans, or rainforests pass the threshold, they will continue to degrade for decades, even if emissions stop.

“The world is moving towards 2-3°C of global warming. This will cause the Earth to cross many dangerous critical points, which will have disastrous consequences for people around the world. To maintain habitable conditions on Earth, protect people from growing extreme phenomena and the creation of stable societies, we must do everything possible to prevent the crossing of tipping points. Every tenth of a degree matters, “concluded study co-author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

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