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A 'Cascade' of Climate Tipping Points

Scientists are increasingly concerned that climate tipping points might "cascade" into multiple heating effects that does irrevocable damage to the planet.
December 10, 2019, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Alexander Erdbeer

"New research warns that the earth may be approaching key tipping points, including the runaway loss of ice sheets, that could fundamentally disrupt the global climate system. A growing concern is a change in ocean circulation, which could alter climate patterns in a profound way," according to an article by Fred Pearce.

A recent study, published in Nature, suggests that changes to ocean circulation could produce a cascade of effects, each triggering another, "creating an irreversible shift to a hotter world," according to Pearce's explanation.

Pearce is compelled by that recent research, but there's a history of similar findings to share. Here's how Pearce summarizes the three tipping points that worry researchers:

The potential tipping points come in three forms: runaway loss of ice sheets that accelerate sea level rise; forests and other natural carbon stores such as permafrost releasing those stores into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), accelerating warming; and the disabling of the ocean circulation system.

While researchers used to think of each of these tipping points as independent of each other, warning such as this new research suggest the cascade relationship between each.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, December 5, 2019 in Yale Environment 360
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