Nine Climate Tipping Points That Are Threatening Our Existence

As recent research resurfaces, we learn that more than half the climate tipping points discovered a decade ago are right now active. Such a thing harms the loss of the Amazon rainforest and the massive ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland.

Those two are known to be undergoing assessable and unusual variations much earlier than predicted or expected. The abundant changes started by global warming could harm our existence. Scientists call for urgent action to decrease greenhouse gas emission to stop key tipping points, alerting of a worst-case scenario of a “hothouse,” less habitable planet.

Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, explained the importance and the danger we could face. He stated, “The growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible for waiting and seeing. The situation is urgent, and we need an emergency response.”

Nine Climate Tipping Points That Are Threatening Our Existence

Tipping points risks are currently much increased than earlier estimates, while urgency links to how fast it takes to act to decrease risk. Removing the fossil fuel economy is unlikely before 2050, but with the temperature already at 1.1C above pre-industrial temperature, our planet may reach 1.5C guardrail by 2040. The nine active tipping points are:

  • West Antarctic Ice Sheet;
  • Permafrost;
  • Arctic sea ice;
  • Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation;
  • Parts of East Antarctica;
  • Warm-water corals;
  • Greenland ice sheet;
  • Amazon rainforest;
  • Boreal forests;

The downfall of major ice sheets on Greenland, part of East Antarctica, and West Antarctica would commit the world to almost 10 meters of inevitable sea-level rise. Decreasing emissions could slow this process, permitting more time for low-lying populations to move. Also, the permafrost, rainforests, and boreal forests are examples of biosphere tipping points that, if met, result in the launch of extra greenhouse gases, expanding global warming.

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