EU Science Hub

Tipping points

Recent research efforts have led to the proposal that additional model-based research is needed into climate tipping points. Therefore, an exploratory study attempting to assess the economic impact of non-linear consequences of climate change in Europe was initiated as part of the overall PESETA II project.

Methodology

In consultation with experts, JRC-IPTS identified six tipping points and undertook a process to describe their global consequences during a time-frame short enough to make economic assessment possible. These tipping points are:

  • Arctic Sea-Ice melting (ASI);
  • Melting of Alpine glaciers (MAG);
  • Greenland Ice sheet meltdown (GIS);
  • West Antarctic ice sheet collapse (WAIS);
  • Collapse of the Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation (THC);
  • Persistent blocking events of the jet stream (BLK);

Main results and findings

Given the level of scientific knowledge and consensus in the areas identified above, it was not possible to undertake an economic assessment of tipping points as part of the PESETA II study. However, the PESETA II report was able to provide a quantitative description of the state of the knowledge in this area.

Furthermore, through expert consultation this analysis was able to produce a series of quantified estimates of what should be considered the "worst case" regarding each of these impacts. For example, the worst case for the Summer Arctic sea ice was considered to be near-complete melting by 2040.

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