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TUMBLE - the tipping question ...

... for Antarctica, Greenland, monsoon and overturningIceberg_75

Scientific Objective

Some parts of the climate system are particularly sensitive already to relatively small changes in background climate. Among the most relevant for human society are the great ice sheets on Greenland (GIS) and West-Antarctica (WAIS) through their role for global sea level rise and the Asian monsoon as a basis of livelihood for more than a billion people. Here we propose to investigate the stability of each of these tipping elements as well as their inter-linkage through another possibly vulnerable system, the Atlantic overturning circulation (THC), and the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ).

Research questions

  • Is the West Antarctic ice sheet stable under global warming?
  • Are monsoon circulations capable of multi-stability?
  • What is the future of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) and what is the probability of its irreversible melt-back under different global warming scenarios?
  • Can a wind-driven Atlantic overturning be inherently unstable?
  • How could GIS melting affect stability of Antarctic ice sheet and thermohaline circulation?
  • How does it feed back onto tropical monsoon circulations?

Project members (and their expertise within the project)

Speaker: Anders Levermann

Former members


Publications (peer-reviewed, open peer-review)


33. R. Winkelmann, A. Levermann, K. Frieler, M.A. Martin
Uncertainty in future solid ice discharge from Antarctica
The Cryosphere Discussions, 6 (2012), 673-714; DOI 10.5194/tcd-6-673-2012.
bibtex entry - endnote entry

32. A. Levermann, J. Bamber, S. Drijfhout, A. Ganopolski, W. Haeberli, N.R.P. Harris, M. Huss, K. Krüger, T. Lenton, R.W. Lindsay, D. Notz, P. Wadhams, S. Weber
Potential climatic transitions with profound impact on Europe - Review of the current state of six 'tipping elements of the climate system'
Climatic Change 110 (2012), 845-878, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0126-5.
» Supplementary Information
bibtex entry - endnote entry

31. J.J. Fürst and A. Levermann
Minimal model of a wind- and mixing-driven overturning - threshold behaviour for both driving mechanisms
Climate Dynamics 37 (2012), published online, DOI: 10.1007/s00382-011-1003-7.

30. J. Schewe, A. Levermann, H. Cheng
A critical humidity threshold for monsoon transitions
Climate of the Past Discussions 7 (2011), 1737-1765

29. T. Albrecht and A. Levermann
Fracture field for large-scale ice dynamics
Journal of Glaciology 58 (2012), 165-176, DOI: 10.3189/2012JoG11J191


28. C. F. Schleussner, K. Frieler,M. Meinshausen, J. Xin, A. Levermann
Emulating Atlantic overturning strength for low emission scenarios: consequences for sea-level rise along the North American east coast
Earth System Dynamics 2 (2011), 191-200.

27. A. Levermann, T. Albrecht, R. Winkelmann, M.A. Martin, M. Haseloff, I. Joughin
Kinetmatic first-order calving law implies potential for abrupt ice-shelf retreat
The Cryosphere Discussions 5 (2011), 2699-2722.

26. M.A. Martin, R. Winkelmann, M. Haseloff, T.Albrecht, E. Bueler, C. Khroulev, A. Levermann
The Potsdam Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM-PIK), Part II: Dynamical Equilibrium Simulation of the Antarctic Ice Sheet
The Cryosphere 5 (2011), 727-740.
bibtexentry - endnote entry

25. R. Winkelmann, M.A. Martin, M. Haseloff, T. Albrecht, E. Bueler, C. Khroulev, A. Levermann
The Potsdam Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM-PIK), Part I: Model Description
The Cryosphere 5 (2011), 715-726.
bibtex entry - endnote entry

24. M. Rietkerk, V. Brovkin, P. M. van Bodegom, M. Claussen, S. C. Dekker, H. A. Dijkstra, S. V. Goryachkin, P. Kabat, E. H. van Nes, A.-M. Neutel, S. E. Nicholson, C. Nobre, V. Petoukhov, A. Provenzale, M. Scheffer, S. I. Seneviratne
Local ecosystem feedbacks and critical transitions in the climate
Ecological Complexity 8 (2011), 223-228.

23. A. Born, K. H. Nisancioglu, B. Risebrobakken
Late Eemian warming in the Nordic Seas as seen in proxy data and climate models
Paleoceanography 26 (2011), PA2207, 10 PP., DOI: 10.1029/2010PA002027.

22. A. Robinson, R. CalovA. Ganopolski
Greenland ice sheet model parameters constrained using simulations of the Eemian Interglacial
Climate of the Past 7 (2011) 381–396, DOI: 10.5194/cp-7-381-2011.

21. A. Levermann
Oceanography: When glacial giants roll over
Nature 472 (2011), 43-44.

20. J. Schewe, A. Levermann, M. Meinshausen
Climate change under a scenario near 1.5C of global warming: monsoon intensification, ocean warming and steric sea level rise
Earth System Dynamics 2 (2011), 25-35, DOI:10.5194/esd-2-25-2011.

19. T. Albrecht, M.A. Martin, R. Winkelmann, M. Haseloff, A. Levermann
Parameterization for Subgrid-Scale Motion of Ice-Shelf Calving-Fronts
The Cryosphere, 5 (2011), 35–44, DOI:10.5194/tc-5-35-2011

18. M. Montoya, A. Born, A. Levermann
Reversed North Atlantic gyre dynamics in present and glacial climates
Climate Dynamics, 36 (2011), 1107–1118, DOI: 10.1007/s00382-009-0729-y.
bibtex entry - endnote entry


17. A. Levermann and J.J. Fürst
Atlantic pycnocline theory scrutinized using a coupled climate model
Geophysical Research Letters, 37 (2010), L14602.
bibtex entry - endnote entry

16. A. Born and A. Levermann
The 8.2 ka event: abrupt transition of the subpolar gyre toward a modern North Atlantic circulation
Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems G3, 11 (2010), Q06011.
» Supplementary information
bibtex entry - endnote entry

15. T. Hattermann and A. Levermann
Response of Southern Ocean circulation to global warming may enhance basal ice shelf melting around Antarctica
Climate Dynamics, 35 (2010), 741-756.
bibtex entry - endnote entry

14. J. Schewe and A. Levermann
The role of meridional density gradients for a wind-driven overturning
Climate Dynamics, 34 (2010), 547-556.
bibtex entry - endnote entry

13. B. Marzeion, A. Levermann, J. Mignot
Sensitivity of North Atlantic subpolar gyre and overturning to stratification-dependent mixing: response to global warming
Climate Dynamics, 34 (2010), 661-668.
bibtex entry - endnote entry


12. A. Robinson, R. Calov, A. Ganopolski;
An efficient regional energy-moisture balance model for simulation of the Greenland Ice Sheet response to climate change
The Cryosphere Discussions, 3 (2009), 729-764.

11. A. Levermann, J. Schewe, V. Petoukhov, H. Held
Basic mechanism for abrupt monsoon transitions
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106 (2009), 20572-20577.
» Supplementary information
bibtex entry - endnote entry

10. B. Marzeion and A. Levermann
Stratification-dependent mixing may increase sensitivity of a wind-driven Atlantic overturning to surface freshwater flux
Geophysical Research Letters, 36 (2009), L20602.
bibtex entry

09. H. Goelzer, A. Levermann, S. Rahmstorf
Two-way coupling of an ENSO model to the global climate model CLIMBER-3α
Ocean Modeling, 29 (2009), 94-101.

08. T. Kuhlbrodt, S. Rahmstorf, K. Zickfeld, F.B. Vikebø, S. Sundby, M. Hofmann, P.M. Link, A. Bondeau, W. Cramer, C. Jaeger
An Integrated Assessment of Changes in the Thermohaline Circulation.
Climatic Change, 96 (2009), 489-537.

07. M. Hofmann and S. Rahmstorf
On the stability of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA 106 (2009), 20584–20589.

06. A. Born, A. Levermann, J. Mignot
Sensitivity of the Atlantic ocean circulation to a hydraulic overflow parameterisation in a coarse resolution model: response of the subpolar gyre
Ocean Modeling, 27 (2009), 130-142.
bibtex entry


05. V. Dakos, M. Scheffer, E.H. van Nes, V. Brovkin, V. Petoukhov, H. Held
Slowing down as an early warning signal for abrupt climate change.<
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2008) 105, 14308-14312.

04. B. Knopf, K. Zickfeld, M. Flechsig, V. Petoukhov
Sensitivity of the Indian Monsoon to Human Activities.
Advances in Atmoshperic Sciences (2008) 25,, 932-945.

03. T. Lenton, H. Held, E. Kriegler, J. Hall, W. Lucht, S. Rahmstorf, H. J. Schellnhuber
Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2008) 105, 1786-1793.

02. M. Montoya and A. Levermann
Surface wind stress threshold for glacial Atlantic overturning
Geophysical Research Letters, 35 (2008), L03608.
» Supporting online material. » Highlighted in EOS, February 2008.
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01. A. Levermann and A. Born

Bistability of the Atlantic subpolar gyre in a coarse resolution climate model
Geophysical Research Letters, 34 (2007), L24605.
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