About TiPES

TiPES is a horizon 2020 funded project that will run from September 2019 and 4 years on. The main object is to better quantify the tipping elements that are present in the climate system and to ensure that climate projections also include these.

There is rising concern that several subsystems of the Earth may respond highly nonlinearly at critical future levels of anthropogenic forcing; these levels have recently been associated with tipping points (TPs). It is paramount to identify safe operating spaces for humanity and the planet in terms of these critical forcing levels in order to prevent harmful transitions to alternative, undesirable states of the Earth system. The mechanisms leading to such abrupt transitions are only partly understood, and further research in this regard is urgently needed. State-of-art Earth System Models appear to respond too smoothly at TPs and have difficulties in simulating abrupt transitions that occurred in the planet’s history.

Tipping points can best be described as critical thresholds where the climate system as a whole, or its components, referred to as tipping elements, transition from one stable state to another. This occurs by way of a drastic and irreversible change that catalyzes a domino effect of feedback mechanisms, resulting in a cascade of numerous dramatic changes.

TiPES will address these problems from several angles:

1. The project will identify subsystems that may exhibit abrupt transitions, and
couplings between them, by focusing on paleoclimatic records and abrupt transitions therein. Novel methods to detect Early Warning Signals of forthcoming TPs, and to make skillful predictions on their basis, will be developed.

Examples of potential tipping elements (components): Disturbances to South American and Asian monsoons, changes in Atlantic ocean currents, melting of the Antarctic, reductions in Arctic sea ice, drought and extreme rainfall in Africa’s Sahel, drought in the coniferous belts of northern Europe, North America and Siberia.

2. The potential shortcomings of models in representing TPs will be evaluated; in particular, TiPES will investigate how Bayesian calibration techniques can help enable these models to simulate past abrupt transitions.

3. TiPES will develop a generalized theory of climate sensitivity that accounts for the presence of TPs and feedbacks across various time scales.

4. To define safe operating spaces. TiPES will focus on dynamical system theory and on global stability notions for non-autonomous systems in order to estimate the stability of desirable states.

5. The results obtained by the project will be communicated to policy makers in a manner that facilitates decisions and their implementation. TiPES will develop formal approaches to define the socioeconomic risks of crossing TPs, and to derive decision strategies to keep anthropogenic forcing below levels where abrupt transitions may occur.

TiPES will run for four years, beginning in September 2019. The project is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020.The TiPES center, under the Niels Bohr Institute, will open in September 2019 and is headed by Associate Professor Peter Ditlevsen.

TiPES a large scientific collaboration

1 University of Copenhagen, Niels Bohr Institute (DK)

2 University of Exeter, Department of Mathemathics (UK)

3 Potsdam institute for Climate impact Ressearch (DE)

4 Complutense university of Madrid (ES)

5 The university of Reading, Department of Mathematics and Statistics (UK)

6 University of Bern, Physics department, Climate and environmental physics (CH)

7 Utrecht University, Physics, Marine and atmospheric Research (NL)

8 United Kingdom Research and innovation, Natural Environment Research Council, British Antarctic Survey (UK)

9 Université catholique de Louvain, Faculty of Science, Earth and life institute (BE)

10 Technische Universität München, Department of mathemathics (DE)

11 Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Institute of atmospheric sciences and climate (IT)

12 Ecole Normale Supérieure, Le Centre de formation sur l’environnement et la société (CERES) (FR)

13 The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), Institute for Mathemathics and Statistics (NO)

14 The Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science – INESC TEC (PT)

15 University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences (UK

16 STICHING VU, Vrije Universitaet Amsterdam, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) (NL)

17 Met office, Climate, Cryosphere and Oceans group (UK)

18 Amigo (IT)