Tipping Elements in the Earth System 


  • Create an international science platform for the study of climatic, ecological and social tipping elements and their interactions in the Earth system.

Objectives and Goals

  • Facilitate and coordinate synthesis and review activities and publications on the risks imposed by climate and ecological tipping elements and their potentially cascading interactions, early warning signals and intervention/management options, as well as on the opportunities offered by societal tipping elements and their interactions for sustainability transformation.
  • Identify corresponding research needs.
  • Convene workshops, consortia for third-party funding consortia and other activities around these topics.
  • Help to interface AIMES with the tipping points-related efforts of Future Earth / Earth Commission.
  • Serve as a science-based clearing house for these topics for research and policy communities.

Working Group Steering Committee

Jonathan Donges is Co-Leader of  the FutureLab on Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene and Working Group Leader on Whole Earth System Analysis in Research Department on Earth System Analysis of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. His research work focusses on dynamics of planetary-scale socio-ecological systems, climatic and social tipping elements, their dynamics and interactions, decarbonization dynamics and sustainability transformation, conceptual models of society-environment coevolutionary dynamics, structure and dynamics of complex networks, nonlinear dynamics and time series analysis, and application of these methods to climate physics and Earth system analysis.

Victor Brovkin is head of a group on Climate-Biogeosphere Interactions at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology and professor at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He was trained as a mathematician at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia, where he got his PhD degree in 1988. Victor Brovkin has over 20 years experience in global climate and carbon cycle science. His research is focused on interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and the climate, including biogeophysical and biogeochemical feedbacks. Victor Brovkin has developed global dynamic vegetation models and applied them for pioneering studies on stability of climate-vegetation system. He uses models of different complexity to study carbon cycle dynamics in the Quaternary period, including the last glacial cycle and the Holocene. His groups research has now shifted towards understanding the role of high latitude ecosystems in the climate system, focusing on terrestrial and marine permafrost processes. 

Ricarda Winkelmann is a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany and teaches climate physics as junior professor at Potsdam University. Winkelmann is a member of the German Young Academy of Science and contributing author of the sea-level chapter of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report. Trained as a mathematician and theoretical physicist in Germany and the United States, Winkelmann received her PhD with distinction from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in 2012. Winkelmann was appointed Junior Professor for Climate System Analysis at Potsdam University in 2014. Her research at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research focuses on tipping elements in the Earth System, Antarctic ice-dynamics and future sea-level rise.

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