Inter- and Transdisciplinary Sessions
Disciplinary sessions AS–GM
Disciplinary sessions GMPV–TS

Session programme


ITS – Inter- and Transdisciplinary Sessions

ITS3 – Tipping points, thresholds and resonance


Several subsystems of the Earth system have been suggested to react abruptly at critical levels of anthropogenic forcing. Well-known examples of such Tipping Elements include the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, the polar ice sheets and sea ice, tropical and boreal forests, as well as the Asian monsoon systems. Interactions between the different Tipping Elements may either have stabilizing or destabilizing effects on the other subsystems, potentially leading to cascades of abrupt transitions. The critical forcing levels at which abrupt transitions occur have recently been associated with Tipping Points.

It is paramount to determine the critical forcing levels (and the associated uncertainties) beyond which the systems in question will abruptly change their state, with potentially devastating climatic, ecological, and societal impacts. For this purpose, we need to substantially enhance our understanding of the dynamics of the Tipping Elements and their interactions, on the basis of paleoclimatic evidence, present-day observations, and models spanning the entire hierarchy of complexity. Moreover, to be able to mitigate - or prepare for - potential future transitions, early warning signals have to be identified and monitored in both observations and models.

This interdisciplinary session invites contributions that address Tipping Points in the Earth system from the different perspectives of all relevant disciplines, including

- the mathematical theory of abrupt transitions in (random) dynamical systems,
- paleoclimatic studies of past abrupt transitions,
- data-driven and process-based modelling of past and future transitions,
- early-warning signals
- the implications of abrupt transitions for Climate sensitivity and response,
- ecological and societal impacts, as well as
- decision theory in the presence of uncertain Tipping Point estimates

Confirmed invited speaker: Michael Ghil

Co-organized by CL4/CR7/OS1
Convener: Niklas BoersECSECS | Co-conveners: Peter Ditlevsen, Timothy Lenton , Anna von der Heydt, Ricarda Winkelmann
| Attendance Wed, 06 May, 08:30–12:30 (CEST)

Climate change is projected to result in an increase in extreme and compound weather events, which pose a growing threat to human well-being and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further warming is also projected to reduce the efficacy of carbon sinks acting as negative feedbacks on warming and increase the risk of crossing tipping points and triggering cascading changes in the climate and ecosystems. These processes may reduce the Earth system’s resilience, which has the potential to further amplify climate change and extremes and worsen societal impacts.

Maintaining Earth in the Holocene-like conditions that have enabled the development of the world’s societies will require better understanding of feedbacks and tipping dynamics in both the human world and the biophysical Earth. Societies will need to embark on rapid socio-economic and governance transformations in order to both reduce the risk of triggering tipping points and to improve societal resilience to increasingly likely extreme events. Earth resilience brings the complex dynamics and perturbations associated with human activities into Earth system analysis, and increasingly captures socio-economic as well as biophysical dynamics.

In this session we welcome transdisciplinary and cross-scale contributions relating to climate extremes, tipping dynamics, and Earth resilience, covering topics ranging from the cascading impacts of extreme and compound events, key feedbacks and tipping points in both biophysical and human systems, enhancing societal resilience to extreme events, and the potential for rapid social transformations to global sustainability.

Public information:
EGU 2020 Session TS3.2/NH10.7
Climate Extremes, Tipping Dynamics, and Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene
6 May, 14:00-18:00

This session will run as an EGU website hosted text-based chat accessible here, as well as through a simultaneous Zoom video room (link to be provided during the livechat).

Both the EGU chatroom and the Zoom video room will be moderated.
Comments on the presentations can be made at the EGU website at any time, for asynchronous responses.
Comments and questions asked in the EGU chatroom will be forwarded to the Zoom presenters. This means all questions will get responses, but this may not happen within the timeslot of the presentation.
To facilitate real-time dialogue with the presenters, please go to the Zoom session.

When joining the Zoom session remember to mute yourself, and to ask questions please raise your hand (available from the 'participants' button) and unmute when the chair calls on you. If you are a presenter, unmute when called on and share your screen if you have a few slides to show. Each presenter gets 10 minutes max including Q&A, so we suggest presenting some summary slides for a few minutes and then taking questions for the rest.

Co-organized by BG1/CL2/CR7/NP8/OS1, co-sponsored by Future Earth
Convener: Felix Riede | Co-conveners: David Armstrong McKayECSECS, Jana Sillmann, Jonathan Donges, Dorothea Frank, Sarah Cornell, Ricarda Winkelmann
| Attendance Wed, 06 May, 14:00–18:00 (CEST)