PIK is part of the group of scientists who raised the idea of Tipping Elements In Earth's Climate System in Feb 08. Which noted that "Society may be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change."
However, in some regions, man-made causes affecting the climate system could kick start abrupt and potentially irreversible changes. For these sub-systems of the Earth system the researchers introduce the term "tipping element".
They shortlisted nine tipping elements relevant to current policy-making. All of them could be tipped within the next 100 years.
- Melting of Arctic sea-ice (approx 10 years)
- Decay of the Greenland ice sheet (more than 300 years)
- Collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (more than 300 years)
- Collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (approx 100 years)
- Increase in the El Nino Southern Oscillation (approx 100 years)
- Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon (approx 1 year)
- Greening of the Sahara/Sahel and disruption of the West African monsoon (approx 10 years)
- Dieback of the Amazon rainforest (approx 50 years)
- Dieback of the Boreal Forest (approx 50 years)