Climate Tipping Points, Irreversibility and their Consequences for Society, Environment and Economies | Switzerland’s Proposal for an IPCC Special Report

Climate Tipping Points, Irreversibility and their Consequences for Society, Environment and Economies | Switzerland’s Proposal for an IPCC Special Report

Climate Tipping Points, Irreversibility and their Consequences for Society, Environment and Economies | Switzerland’s Proposal for an IPCC Special Report

ABOUT THIS SESSION

Over the past decades, our scientific understanding of climate change has significantly grown. The IPCC reports have played a key role in synthetizing the best available science on the causes of climate change, its impacts, and possible pathways to adapt to and mitigate them.

Meanwhile, scientific information on large-scale singular events, tipping points and irreversibilities remains scattered. Tipping points in the climate system refer to thresholds that can occur as a consequence of human induced climate change, and that lead to changes are abrupt, high-impact, large-scale and often irreversible.

To respond to this need, the government of Switzerland considers it timely and pertinent to ask the IPCC to elaborate a Special Report on “Climate Tipping Points and their Implications for Habitability and Resources”, which will be prepared in the framework of the IPCC’s 7th Assessment Cycle, scheduled to start in 2023. All three IPCC Working Groups are expected to contribute to this Special Report, making it a comprehensive assessment of the topic. The timing of the approval of the report should take place around 2026 in order to serve as the basis for the second UNFCCC Global Stocktake from 2026 to 2028, and well before the second commitment period under the Paris Agreement in 2030.

This event organized with Switzerland within the framework of the Geneva Environment Network, will present the initiative to governments participating in the IPCC and Parties to the UNFCCC and other interested stakeholders. The goal of the event is to lay out as to how the crossing of tipping points in the climate systems may impact society, environment and economies alike, across the globe.

More information: tiny.cc/GEN25May22

SPEAKERS

 Additional speaker to be confirmed.

  • Thomas STOCKER, Professor of Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern & President of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research
  • Sebastian KÖNIG, Chief Scientist, International Affairs Division, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) & Focal Point for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Switzerland
  • Maria NEIRA, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization
  • Alexandra BILAK, Director, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
  • Eric USHER, Head, United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative
  • Jürg LUTERBACHER, Director, Science and Innovation Department & Chief Scientist, World Meteorological Organization
  • Dina IONESCO, Manager at United Nations Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC) | Moderator

REGISTRATION

To participate in-person at the International Environment House I, room 3, kindly register on the Eventbrite platform.

To participate online, kindly register on the Webex platform.

EGU Session: Tipping points, domino effects and resilience in the Earth system Abstract Submission

EGU Session: Tipping points, domino effects and resilience in the Earth system Abstract Submission

EGU Abstract Submission: Tipping points, domino effects and resilience in the Earth system

Co-organized by CR7/NP8/OS1

Convener: Ricarda Winkelmann | Co-conveners: Jonathan Donges, Victor Brovkin, Sarah Cornell, Timothy Lenton

In this session we invite contributions on all topics relating to tipping points in the Earth system, positive (social) tipping, as well as their interaction and domino effects. We are particularly interested in various methodological approaches, from Earth system modelling to conceptual modelling and data analysis of nonlinearities, tipping points and abrupt shifts in the Earth system. Read more about it here.

With rising anthropogenic pressures, there is an increasing risk we might be hitting the ceiling of some of the self-regulating feedbacks of the Earth System, and cross tipping points which could trigger large-scale and partly irreversible impacts on the environment, and impact the livelihood of millions of people. Potential domino effects or tipping cascades could arise due to the interactions between these tipping elements and lead to a further decline of Earth resilience. At the same time, there is growing evidence supporting the potential of positive (social) tipping points that could propel rapid decarbonization and transformative change towards global sustainability.

Deadlines & milestones (selection)
Abstract submission deadline: 12 January 2022, 13:00 CET
Travel Support application deadline: 1 December 2021

Expression of Interest: Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project

Expression of Interest: Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project

Expression of Interest: Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project

The Earth Commission’s Working Group 1 (Earth and Human Systems Modelling Intercomparison Project), Future Earth’s global research project Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) and the Safe Landing Climates Light House Activity of World Climate Research Program (WCRP) have launched a discussion series to advance the knowledge about tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system. It supports efforts to increase consistency in treatment of tipping elements in the scientific community, develop a research agenda, and design joint experiments and ideas for a Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project (TipMip).

Workshop: Remote Sensing of Tipping Points in the Climate System

Workshop: Remote Sensing of Tipping Points in the Climate System

Remote Sensing of Tipping Points in the Climate System

Location: Virtual
Dates: January 26-29, 2021
Contact: Sophie Hebden, ESA/ECSAT, United Kingdom; Anny Cazenave, ISSI Bern, Switzerland; Susanne Mecklenburg, ESA/ECSAT, Italy; Lorena Moreira, ISSI Bern, Switzerland; Michael Rast, ESA/ESRIN, Italy 

Workshop Overview

The two most recent IPCC Special Reports [1],[2], indicate that climate tipping points – abrupt and irreversible changes in the Earth system – are a risk even at lower global average temperatures. Examples include irreversible melting of Greenland and west Antarctica ice sheets, shutdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, and carbon dioxide and methane release from permafrost melting. Some of these regime shifts could be exceeded between 1 and 2 degrees of warming. A particular threat is cascading tipping effects [3], where exceeding a tipping point in one system triggers abrupt and large-scale change in others. 

Since the threat of exceeding climate tipping points cannot be ruled out, they pose an existential threat to civilization and an important frontier for scientific effort: we need to reduce the uncertainties around their likelihood as well as the resilience of the Earth system [4]. Efforts must include developing climate models to capture a richer suite of couplings and feedbacks in the Earth system to anticipate changes and prioritize mitigation efforts. We must also improve our observational records of the most sensitive aspects of the climate system and find more efficient ways to use these observations. 

With this 2-3 day forum, we aim to focus on Earth observations, clarifying the satellite data requirements to better monitor the climate system’s resilience to tipping points, to constrain models and build on the ESA CCI programme as a foundation for a future abrupt change early warning system [5]. Workshop participants will contribute to a citable report that will provide input to and guide the development of future ESA climate activities. 

The meeting is jointly organized by the ESA Climate Office, International Space Science Institute, and the AIMES (Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System) global research project of Future Earth.

Scope

Research Questions To Drive The Agenda 

  • Satellite observation requirements for monitoring tipping elements in the Earth System, perturbing factors, and interactions.
  • Processing the data to show proximity to thresholds in the system.
  • Development of risk (and resilience) indicators, grouped by sphere into cryosphere, ocean and biosphere – and their interactions, and how they link into social responses and social tipping point risks.
  • For biosphere: recommendations for ecological indicators of abrupt change and response to disturbance: observation requirements by region/variable/resolutions to observe greening/browning, fire response, vegetation-atmosphere interactions, and drivers of extinction.
  • Cryosphere: prioritization and recommendations for indicators of abrupt change and the inclusion of cascading impacts in models.
  • Ocean: critical needs for observation of circulation changes, tipping points relating to ocean-atmosphere fluxes, clouds, and their cascading impacts: for example on hypopoxy and CH4 release.
  • System responses to human activity – recommendations for monitoring of tipping elements relating due to land and ocean management.
  • Recommendations for improving our understanding of uncertainties and risk relating to remote sensing of tipping elements, and model-data integration.
  • Improving our understanding of inter-connectedness of climate and human systems.
  • Recommendations for how to use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for detecting tipping thresholds and ‘flickering’ in remote sensing data.
  • Research strategies for monitoring unobservable tipping elements through by defining emergent constraints.
  • Defining model-data integration requirements, processing and infrastructure.

Agenda

Full programme .pdf

Participants

Organizing Committee

  • Susanne Mecklenburg (ESA/ECSAT)
  • Sophie Hebden (ESA/ECSAT)
  • Anny Cazenave (ISSI)
  • Michael Rast (ESA/ESRIN)
  • Tim Lenton (University of Exeter, UK)
  • Victor Brovkin (MPI-M, Germany)
  • Philippe Ciais (LSCE, France)
  • Ricarda Winkelmann (PIK, Germany)

Forum Participants >>

Participants Bios >>

Workshop Product

Read the workshop report here.

Workshop: Abrupt changes, thresholds, and tipping points in Earth history and future implications

Workshop: Abrupt changes, thresholds, and tipping points in Earth history and future implications

Abrupt changes, thresholds, and tipping points in Earth history and future implications workshop

Location: MPI-M, Hamburg, Germany 
Dates: November 14-16, 2018
Contact: Ed Brooke, Oregon State University, USA; Victor Brovkin, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany 

Workshop Overview

There is increasing realization and concern that human modification of the Earth system runs the risk of inducing abrupt transitions in climate, ocean circulation, the cryosphere, ecosystems, and society. Our ability to predict when and where such transitions, so called “tipping points,” might happen is limited. While abrupt climate change has long been identified in ice core records (Johnsen et al., 1992) and other archives, skillfully modeling abrupt change has largely been limited to simple models and many state of the art climate models underestimate the rate and extent of abrupt change apparent in paleo data (Valdes, 2011). Major challenges facing more complex models include simplifying processes through parameterizations and the exclusion of processes important on longer timescales such as ice-sheet dynamics or carbon cycle feedbacks that would give rise to abrupt events. This challenges our ability to understand the ways in which human activities may put pressure on the biogeochemical and physical climate systems to induce tipping points in the future.

Recently, a multi-model assessment revealed abrupt events in some models under forcing from the IPCC RCP scenarios, suggesting the possibility of predicting the likelihood of such events (Drijfhout et al., 2015). Advancing our understanding of the full range of possible abrupt climate, environmental and societal changes through the continued assessment and collection of paleo data and application of robust statistical techniques using improved multimodel experiments will help us to assess future risks. However, how to best use the paleo records in this regard is not well established.

The main objective of this workshop is to summarize and evaluate evidence on non-linear Earth System dynamics in recent geological history, and discuss how best to acquire, analyze and interpret such data to understand the risk of future abrupt transitions. Where applicable, we will discuss physical, biogeochemical, ecological and social processes that might have caused abrupt transitions to new states, and their relevance for Earth system models. We will assess the well-archived and relatively abundant paleoclimate data from the Quaternary period, and the skill of the current state of the art climate models to reconstruct past abrupt changes and predict abrupt climate change in the future.

The meeting is jointly organized by the Future Earth global research projects: AIMES (Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System and PAGES (Past Global Changes).

Scope

This workshop will bring together experts in the mathematical modeling of tipping points and paleoscientists with expertise in the following domains: cryosphere, atmosphere, carbon cycle, ocean circulation, ecosystems, and early societies. We will host a three-day workshop to engage these scientists to synthesize paleo evidence, model-data comparison, and the ability of current generation of Earth System models used in the IPCC process to simulate abrupt changes and tipping points. The ultimate goal of the workshop is to produce a journal article summarizing both our understanding of the above issues and a roadmap for future progress in this area.

The workshop focuses on three key questions

(i) How to define, identify, and anticipate abrupt changes, thresholds and tipping points from paleoclimate records and models?

(ii) What are key examples of abrupt changes, thresholds and tipping points in the paleorecord?

(iii) How can the paleo science influence our understanding of the tipping point problem?

Agenda

Full programme .pdf

Participants

Workshop Product

Brovkin, V., Brook, E., Williams, J. W., Bathiany, S., Lenton, T. M., Barton, M., et al. (2021). Past abrupt changes, tipping points and cascading impacts in the Earth system. Nature Geoscience. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-021-00790-5