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Journal Article

Predicting climatic tipping points


Sunny,  Eros M.
External Organizations;

Balakrishnan,  Janaki
External Organizations;


Kurths,  Jürgen
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Sunny, E. M., Balakrishnan, J., Kurths, J. (2023): Predicting climatic tipping points. - Chaos, 33, 2, 021101.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29110
Increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide, are leading contributors to a significant increase in the global temperature, and the consequent global climatic changes are more noticeable in recent years than in the past. A persistent increased growth of such gases might lead to an irreversible transition or tipping of the Earth’s climatic system to a new dynamical state. A change of regimes in CO buildup being correlated to one in global climate patterns, predicting this tipping point becomes crucially important. We propose here an innovative conceptual model, which does just this. Using the idea of rate-induced bifurcations, we show that a sufficiently rapid change in the system parameters beyond a critical value tips the system over to a new dynamical state. Our model when applied to real-world data detects tipping points, enables calculation of tipping rates and predicts their future values, and identifies thresholds beyond which tipping occurs. The model well captures the growth in time of the total global atmospheric fossil-fuel CO concentrations, identifying regime shift changes through measurable parameters and enabling prediction of future trends based on past data. Our model shows two distinct routes to tipping. We predict that with the present trend of variation of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the Earth’s climatic system would move over to a new stable dynamical regime in the year 2022. We determine a limit of 10.62 GtC at the start of 2022 for global CO emissions in order to avoid this tipping.