Climate tipping points

March 1, 2008 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Kim photoHow fast is our Earth cooking up? Scientists have identified 9 tipping points that could hurl our planet into a future catastrophic climate state during the 21st Century. And they make for 9 pretty scary scenarios. The scientists have reported their findings in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and warn that anthropogenic climate change is very likely to result in sudden and dramatic climate changes.

And here are the 9 scenarios:

* Arctic sea ice: already seems to be shrinking and some scientists believe that the tipping point for the total loss of summer sea ice is imminent. No doubt we’ll see more photos of poor polar bears swimming endlessly around looking for some shrinking ice floe to rest on.

* Greenland ice sheet: total melting could take 300 years or more but the tipping point that could see irreversible change might occur within 50 years.

* West Antarctic ice sheet: scientists believe it could unexpectedly collapse if it slips into the sea at its warming edges.

* Gulf Stream: scientists are predicting a collapse possibly in the 21st Century.

* El Niño: warmer seas could affect the southern Pacific current, resulting in far-reaching climate change.

* Indian monsoon: relies on temperature difference between land and sea, which could be tipped off-balance by pollutants that cause localised cooling.

* West African monsoon: more monsoonal trouble – the West African monsoon has led to the greening of the Sahara in the past but in the future it could cause droughts.

* Amazon rainforest: I read recently that more than 20% of the Amazonian rainforests have disappeared. Couple this with a warmer world and further deforestation, then the rain system that supports this beautiful ecosystem could be kaput.

* Boreal forests: as the world heats up, trees suited to the cold climates of Siberia and Canada are dying as temperatures rise.

Source: Alternet


Entry filed under: Climate Change.

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