This is a review of four types of tipping points concerning climate change. Firstly, the paper defines a tipping point as
'a threshold at which small quantitative changes in the system trigger a nonlinear change process that is driven by system-internal feedback mechanisms and inevitably leads to a qualitatively different state of the system, which is often irreversible' (Milkoreit et al. 2018, p 11).
As this definition suggests, what is particularly important is that small changes can lead to large changes, which are often impossible to reverse. This is also true of resilience theory, which we wrote about recently. Resilience theory says that thresholds change depending on the state or condition to move to the next phase. And this reflection of the system on other conditions occurs in four categories of flight variability.
1. tipping points as climate change
The most famous of these is the melting of the Arctic ice, which dilutes the salinity of the seawater and prevents it from flowing into the deep sea in the northern Atlantic, causing a major shift in ocean currents and irreversible changes in temperature and climate. In this case, the tipping point is the cessation of downstream currents flowing into the deep sea.
2. tipping point as a change in the ecosystem
This may be smaller than the tipping point in the mechanism, but there are numerous examples. For example, coral reefs bleaching and many red tides can be because of rising seawater temperatures. In terrestrial ecosystems, ancient climate change research has shown that past climate change can change the types of trees that form forests.
3. tipping points as transformations
This category does not seem to be defined that rigorously, but it indicates an evolution in policy and technology that seems to embody the definition of the tipping point. There are times when the world can be changed by incorporating ideas and technologies that are not yet so marketable. For example, the world changed after Apple launched the iPhone. What are some of those technologies and policies in climate change? The European Union's TIPPING+ project will look into this.
4. adaption tipping points
This is also based on adaptive decision-making, which I wrote about recently. You take action, and depending on whether that action is successful or unsuccessful, the pathway to the next state of the system is determined, and you make another decision. In this case, there is not a gigantic tipping point but a series of smaller tipping points.
It's a good review article for a starting point, as many climate change tipping points are referenced. I felt a sense of familiarity reading it as it was researched and referenced by researchers I have been working together.