9 Climate Change Tipping Points Crossed

By Daniel Brouse
March 28, 2024

Tipping points are Critical Milestones that directly impact the rate of acceleration in climate change by multiplying the number and intensity of feedback loops. Identifying and understanding these tipping points is crucial for climate science and policymaking. Crossing multiple tipping points could lead to a domino effect, resulting in a much more rapid and severe climate change than currently projected.

A look at nine (9) of the multiple tipping points that are in play during 2024. The first dominoes have fallen and will continue to knock down more tiles with each escalating step. The crossing of these nine climate tipping points represents a critical threshold in the Earth’s climate system, with potentially irreversible consequences for global ecosystems and human societies:

  1. Greenland Ice Sheet Collapse: The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has accelerated in recent years, leading to increased rates of ice loss and sea level rise. As glaciers retreat and ice shelves collapse, vast quantities of freshwater enter the ocean, disrupting marine ecosystems and contributing to global sea level rise.
  2. West Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse: Similar to Greenland, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is experiencing rapid melting and destabilization. The collapse of this ice sheet has the potential to raise sea levels by several meters, inundating coastal areas and triggering widespread impacts on infrastructure, agriculture, and human populations.
  3. Labrador-Irminger Seas/SPG Convection Collapse: The collapse of convection in the Labrador-Irminger Seas, part of the North Atlantic Ocean, could disrupt the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). This circulation pattern plays a crucial role in regulating global climate and ocean circulation, influencing weather patterns and heat distribution worldwide.
  4. East Antarctic Subglacial Basins Collapse: The East Antarctic Ice Sheet contains vast quantities of ice, much of which is grounded below sea level. The collapse of subglacial basins in East Antarctica could lead to rapid ice loss and contribute to sea level rise, with potentially far-reaching consequences for coastal regions and global climate stability.
  5. Arctic Winter Sea Ice Collapse: Arctic sea ice has been declining rapidly in extent and thickness due to rising temperatures. The loss of winter sea ice in the Arctic not only accelerates regional warming but also affects global weather patterns, ocean circulation, and biodiversity in the Arctic ecosystem.
  6. East Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse: While traditionally considered more stable than its western counterpart, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is also vulnerable to collapse under continued warming. The disintegration of ice shelves and glaciers in East Antarctica could significantly contribute to sea level rise and alter ocean circulation patterns.
  7. Amazon Rainforest Dieback: Deforestation, drought, and climate change threaten the resilience of the Amazon Rainforest, the world’s largest tropical rainforest. The dieback of the Amazon could result in decreased rainfall, increased carbon emissions, and loss of biodiversity, impacting regional and global climate systems.
  8. Boreal Permafrost Collapse: Permafrost in the northern regions of the globe contains vast stores of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter. As permafrost thaws due to rising temperatures, it releases greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, further exacerbating climate change and creating a feedback loop of increased warming.
  9. Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Collapse: The collapse of the AMOC, driven by changes in ocean temperature and salinity, could have profound consequences for global climate stability. Disruption of this circulation pattern could lead to abrupt shifts in weather patterns, including changes in temperature, precipitation, and ocean currents, with far-reaching impacts on ecosystems and human societies.

The crossing of these tipping points underscores the urgent need for decisive action to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. Without concerted efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect vulnerable ecosystems, the consequences of these tipping points could pose significant challenges to the well-being of present and future generations.

The Domino Effect is also known as "tipping cascades" in climate science. Tipping cascades have emerged between biogeophysical and social-ecological systems. This Domino Effect is causing climate change to accelerate at an exponential rate.

For the first time in human history, global warming is going to continue no matter what humans do. Even if humans stopped their greenhouse gas emissions today, humans have invoked nature's greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, the sooner humans stop their emissions, the better. In addition, humans must adapt their habitat to remove, reduce, and hinder nature's greenhouse gas emissions.

Toppled Tipping Points and the Domino Effect: An in-depth examination of seven crossed tipping points.

* Our climate model employs chaos theory to comprehensively consider human impacts and projects a potential global average temperature increase of 9℃ above pre-industrial levels.

What Can I Do?
There are numerous actions you can take to contribute to saving the planet. Each person bears the responsibility to minimize pollution, discontinue the use of fossil fuels, reduce consumption, and foster a culture of love and care. The Butterfly Effect illustrates that a small change in one area can lead to significant alterations in conditions anywhere on the globe. Hence, the frequently heard statement that a fluttering butterfly in China can cause a hurricane in the Atlantic. Be a butterfly and affect the world.

What you can do today. How to save the planet.

Additional Resources

Coral Reefs' Tipping Point Brouse (2024)
East Coast Atmospheric Rivers and AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) Brouse (2024)
Climate Change, the Jet Stream, and East Coast Atmospheric Rivers Brouse (2024)
Wildfires Brouse and Mukherjee (2024)
Climate Tipping Points: Insights for Effective Policy Action
Committed Global Warming Risks Triggering Multiple Climate Tipping Points
The AMOC: tipping this century, or not?

The Reign of Violent Rain

How is All Real Estate at Risk From Climate Change?

The Human Induced Climate Change Experiment

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