Tipping point

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Last seen on: LA Times Crossword 26 May 2018, Saturday

Random information on the term “Tipping point”:

A climate tipping point is a somewhat ill-defined concept of a point when global climate changes from one stable state to another stable state, in a similar manner to a wine glass tipping over. After the tipping point has been passed, a transition to a new state occurs. The tipping event may be irreversible, comparable to wine spilling from the glass: standing up the glass will not put the wine back.

The IPCC AR5 report stated with medium confidence that precise levels of climate change sufficient to trigger a tipping point, defined as a threshold for abrupt and irreversible change, remain uncertain, and that the risk associated with crossing multiple tipping points increases with rising temperature.


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Global warming proceeds because of changes to the composition of gases in the Earth’s atmosphere and Oceans by the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. As warming proceeds, it brings about changes to the natural environment which may result in other changes. For example, warming may begin to melt the Greenland ice sheet and/or West Antarctic Ice Sheet. At some level of temperature rise, the melt of the entire ice sheet will become inevitable; but the ice sheet itself may persist for millennia[citation needed]. A tipping point may be passed without any immediately obvious consequences, nor any acceleration of the warming process. Carbon dioxide as of May 2012[update] made up 396.18 ppm of Earth’s atmosphere and as of 2016 makes up 403.3 ppm of Earth’s atmosphere. Monitoring stations in the Arctic spring 2012 measuring more than 400 ppm of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. James E. Hansen said that this tipping point had already been reached in April 2008 when the CO2 level was 385 ppm. (Hansen states 350 ppm as the upper limit.) “Further global warming of 1°C defines a critical threshold. Beyond that we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know.” He has further suggested potential projections of runaway climate change on Earth, in his book Storms of My Grandchildren.

Tipping point on Wikipedia