In addition to extreme weather events such as storms and floods and slow-onset processes such as sea level rise, over the medium and long term, a completely different magnitude of climate change consequences is emerging: If the thresholds within individual ecosystems, flow systems, or ice bodies are exceeded because of temperature rise (and other harmful effects due to human activity), they can “tip” out of their original state. This sets in motion irreversible and often mutually reinforcing and accelerating developments, which can have massive consequences for individual regions, entire continents, and even globally.
Outstanding scientific research is exploring tipping points’ development and dynamics. Lacking, however, is a systematic approach that translates scientific research into concrete recommendations. Also lacking are targeted calls for action for political decision-makers in affected countries and regions, as well as the international community. An early warning system in the form of a regular report could fill this gap.
Vera Künzel, Rixa Schwarz, Christoph Bals