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DominoES project

Domino Effects in the Earth System: Can Antarctica tip climate policy?

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Tipping elements are components of the Earth system that could be pushed into qualitatively different states by small external perturbations, with profound environmental impacts possibly endangering the livelihoods of millions of people. There are indications for significant interlinkages between climate tipping elements and even the potential for tipping cascades or domino effects from the climate to the social sphere. We will assess these effects for a highly relevant tipping chain connecting climatic tipping elements like Antarctica and Greenland with potential social tipping processes in public opinion formation and climate policy changes, and their societal implications.

DominoES is a joint project by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS) funded by the Leibniz Association (2017 - 2020).


  • 17 - 19 June 2019: Second DominoES Workshop on "Social Tipping Elements relevant to stay within planetary boundaries", GESIS, Cologne.

  • 22 - 25 August 2018: "A change in climate change attitudes (and behavior)" (Christina Eder, E. Keith Smith). Panel organized for the ECPR General Conference in Hamburg.

  • 6 August 2018: Paper published in PNAS on "Trajectories of the Earth system in the Anthropocene" featuring potential cascading domino effects of Earth system tipping elements with broad meadia impact, e.g.: Tagesschau (from minute 1.30), Süddeutsche Zeitung, FAZ, RBB Aktuell, Spiegel Online, Tagesthemen from minute 10), BBC, Economic Times (India).
  • 4 - 6 June 2018: DominoES Workshop on "Social Tipping Elements Decisive for the Future
    of the Anthropocene", GESIS, Cologne.
  • 24 January 2018: Ricarda Winkelmann and Ronja Reese just started blogging about their expedition to Antarctica investigating complex sea ice dynamics there on board of the German research vessel "Polarstern", operated by the Alfred-Wegener-Institute. Position of Polarstern can be tracked here.

Key idea

DOMINOES tipping cascade
Climate and social tipping elements and their interactions in the Earth system.


Project team

DOMINOES associates at PIK: Nico Wunderling (PhD student, funded by IRTG 1740), Jakob Kolb (PhD student, funded by Stiftung der deutschen Wirtschaft)

DominoES Team at GESIS, Cologne, May 2017.

Scientific advisory board

  • J. Doyne Farmer (Oxford University, United Kingdom; economic modeling, complexity economics)
  • Michael Ghil (University of California Los Angeles, USA; nonlinear dynamics)
  • Timothy Lenton (Exeter University, United Kingdom; climate tipping elements)
  • Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen (Bern University, Switzerland; comparative politics, public opinion)

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