What are Tipping Elements?

 
What are Tipping Elements?
Photo: Arturo Castaneyra/Unsplash

Some parts of the earth system show a threshold behavior: If they are stressed beyond their respective critical limits by human-made climate change, strong and sometimes unstoppable and irreversible changes can occur – they topple over, to put it simply. Among the tipping elements in the climate system are the ice sheets on Greenland and in Antarctica, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, and the permafrost soils. Even the crossing of individual tipping points would have environmental impacts endangering the livelihoods of many people. There is also the risk of a domino-like chain reaction – such a "tipping cascade" would affect the overall stability of our Earth system.