Climate tipping points could lock in unstoppable changes to the planet — how close are they?

Source: The post is based on the article “Climate tipping points could lock in unstoppable changes to the planet — how close are they?” published in the Down To Earth on 8th October 2022.

What is the News?

Continued greenhouse gas emissions risk triggering climate tipping points. According to a major study, the climate crisis has driven the world to the brink of multiple “disastrous” tipping points.

What are climate tipping points or CTPs?

These are markers of a larger climate system which when triggered beyond a threshold, perpetuates warming on its own.

Read here: Basic IPCC terms: Mitigation, Adaptation, tipping point, etc.
What are the key findings of the Study on climate tipping points?

Climate Tipping Points

According to the Study, five dangerous tipping points may already have been passed due to the 1.1 degree Celsius of global heating caused by humanity to date. Four of these five become more likely as global warming exceeds 1.5°C.

The collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet was once thought to be a risk when warming reached 3°C-5°C above Earth’s pre-industrial average temperature. Now it’s thought to be possible at current warming levels.

The researchers found that every fraction of a degree makes tipping more likely, but the researchers are not sure exactly when tipping becomes inevitable. This is especially true for the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets. The front edge of some retreating west Antarctic glaciers are only kilometres away from the unstoppable retreat.

Both tropical coral reef death and abrupt permafrost thaw are possible at the current warming level. But thresholds vary between reefs and patches of permafrost. For instance, both are already happening in some places.

Researchers also found that Amazon tipping might occur in several regions at varying warming levels rather than as one big event.

What are the suggestions to stop reaching climate tipping points?

Currently, the world is heading toward 2 to 3 °C of global warming, at best, if all net-zero pledges and nationally determined contributions are implemented it could reach just below 2 °C.

Ambitious emissions cuts in line with the Paris Agreement aims to halt warming at 1.5 °C. This would reduce the chances of triggering multiple climate tipping point.

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