How Antarctic ice melt can be a tipping point for the whole planet’s climate

Chris Turney, Jonathan Palmer, Peter Kershaw, Steven John Phipps, Zoë Thomas

Research output: Other contributionOther

Abstract

Melting of Antarctica’s ice can trigger rapid warming on the other side of the planet, according to our new research which details how just such an abrupt climate event happened 30,000 years ago, in which the North Atlantic region warmed dramatically.

This idea of “tipping points” in Earth’s system has had something of a bad rap ever since the 2004 blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow purportedly showed how melting polar ice can trigger all manner of global changes.

But while the movie certainly exaggerated the speed and severity of abrupt climate change, we do know that many natural systems are vulnerable to being pushed into different modes of operation. The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, the retreat of Arctic summer sea ice, and the collapse of the global ocean circulation are all examples of potential vulnerability in a future, warmer world.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2017

Publication series

NameThe Conversation

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