Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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Friday, 8 February 2008

SPEED OF TIPPING-POINTS ESTIMATED

It has long been known that various climate systems can be tipped suddenly by climate-change from their present state to a very different one. Now a British team has put numbers on some of them. Three hundred years sounds safe for those alive now, assuming that it doesn't come down to within a lifetime as models are refined and more data comes in. But one year, or ten, or fifty? Not fine.

Lowlights in the list that shows how long it would take for them to make a major transition, once tipped:

Dieback of the Amazon rainforest: about 50 years.
Dieback of the Boreal Forest: about 50 years.
Greening of the Sahara/Sahel and disruption of the West African monsoon: about 10 years.
Melting of Arctic sea-ice: about 10 years.
Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon: about 1 year.

The full report is on the BBC. An even fuller report is at Science Daily.