New PalMod related paper:
Kleinen, T., S. Gromov, B. Steil & V. Brovkin (2021) Atmospheric methane underestimated in future climate. Environmental Research Letters, 16, 094006, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac1814
More details on the paper can be found on the MPI communication page in EN and DE. (25.08.2021)
Talks from PalMod II KickOff
Talks in German (28.05.2020):
Overview talk in English (08.07.2020):
Past abrupt changes provide evidence of cascading tipping points and ‘early warning signals’ in the Earth system
Can climate change result in a collapse in parts of the Earth system, what impacts would these events have on society, and can they be predicted? In the article published in Nature Geoscience, an international team of natural and social scientists have reviewed abrupt shifts in the Earth's past in order to sharpen their tools for predicting the future. They used well-documented abrupt changes of the past 30 thousand years of geological history to illustrate how abrupt changes propagate through the physical, ecological, and societal components of Earth System.
Prof. Victor Brovkin from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) and the leading author of the study, says “For humans, it is crucial to anticipate the future, we need to know what are surprises ahead. It sounds counterintuitive, but to foresee the future we may need to look into the past. A chance to detect abrupt changes and tipping points – when small changes lead to big impacts - increases with the length of observations. This is why analysis of abrupt changes and their cascades recorded in geological archives is of enormous importance.”
A possibility to decrypt an upcoming abrupt change in temporal or spatial patterns is a novel, powerful method called early warning signals. Dr. Sebastian Bathiany, an author from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, explains: “There are useful statistical indicators that can be interpreted as precursors of abrupt changes. Those include so-called slowing down before abrupt changes in oceanic circulation, or increased spatial variance of vegetation cover before the end of African humid period. At the same time, one needs to be cautious as some abrupt changes, such as the Black Sea flooding about 9.5 thousand years ago, cannot not be detected with such methods”.
For the study, it was important to decide on the conceptual framework for the analysis, including terminology. Prof. Martin Claussen, a co-author from MPI-M, comments: “How abrupt is abrupt? There are many definitions of abruptness, they are really context-dependent. Changes in most records evaluated in our study are about ten times faster than changes in the relevant forcing”.
A map of selected atmospheric, oceanographic, ecosystem, and societal records with abrupt changes or tipping points discussed in the article (Fig. 3 from Brovkin et al., 2021).
Abrupt changes in the Earth system are not limited to one particular domain but can cascade through space and time. Dr. Jonathan Donges, a co-author from PIK, comments: “ice-ocean interactions, for example, during onset of the Bølling-Allerød warming in the middle of transition from the last ice age to the current Holocene warm period, lead to cascading impacts in deep ocean anoxia, vegetation cover, and atmospheric CO2 and CH4 concentrations. These changes could also interact with and amplify each other, and propagate among different spatial scales, to eventually affect human hunter-gatherer societies at that time”.
Prof. Michael Barton, Arizona State University, USA, notes, "We are increasingly concerned about the potential for abrupt changes resulting from human impacts in coming decades. Equally important, however, are societal dynamics that can make seemingly resilient human systems vulnerable to abrupt economic or political change - or even collapse - from otherwise manageable environmental fluctuations. Study of past socio-environmental tipping points can give us important insights needed to plan for future ones."
“Earth’s recent past shows us how abrupt changes in the Earth system triggered cascading impacts on ecosystems and human societies, as they struggled to adapt," said Professor Tim Lenton, Director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, UK. "We face the risk of cascading tipping points again now – but this time it is of our own making, and the impacts will be global. Faced with that risk we could do with some early warning signals: What examples from the past show is that different climate, ecological, or social systems all become slower at recovering from perturbations before they reach a tipping point – where they fail to recover at all."
This paper is an outcome of the workshop “Abrupt changes, thresholds, and tipping points in Earth history and future implications” held in Hamburg, Germany in November 2018. The workshop was officially endorsed by the Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) and Past Global Changes (PAGES) projects of Future Earth.
Brovkin, V., Brook, E., Williams J.W., Bathiany, S., Lenton, T.M., Barton, M., DeConto, R.M., Donges, J.F., et al. (2021) Past abrupt changes, tipping points and cascading impacts in the Earth system, Nature Geoscience, doi: 10.1038/s41561-021-00790-5
AMOC Recovery in CMIP Future Scenarios
The authors discuss the CMIP future scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 they redo with the AWI-ESM, a model that basis on AWI-CM (Rankow et al., 2018, Sidorenko et al., 2015) but includes interactive vegetation and an interactive Northern Hemispheric ice sheet model. The focus of the paper is on the effects of the melt-induced fresh water on the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC).
The results indicate, that AMOC is slowing down in both experiments, with and without included interactive ice sheet into the model system, for both future scenarios but starts to recover at the end of the 21st century (RCP4.5) and at the beginning of the 22nd century (RCP8.5), respectively.
Nevertheless, an interactive ice sheet model adds a strong decadal variability on the freshwater release, as a compensating effect, when the surface runoff is reduced by high accumulation rates.
The authors argue, that experiments that aim to parameterize the Greenland freshwater release by freshwater hosing have to be assessed critically, as this compensating effect is missing in climate models without interactive ice sheets. Moreover, they discuss, that the increasing net evaporation over the Atlantic and the resulting increase of the salinity may be the main driver of the AMOC recovery.
Fig.Time series of 11-year means and spatial changes of the Greenland Ice Sheet in the coupled simulations; shaded areas indicate 1 standard deviation. (a) The ice sheet’s total volume expressed as sea-level rise potential, (b) surface runoff from the icesheet model, (c) surface accumulation, (d) discharge, (e) the ice sheet’s total volume change, (f) surface runoff from the atmosphere model. For CTRL only the last 100 years are shown; (g and h) anomaly of ice sheet’s thickness for 2170 – 2199 for RCP4.5-ice and RCP8.5-ice respectively, (i and j) the ice sheet’s surface mass balance for 2170 – 2199 for RCP4.5-ice and RCP8.5-ice respectively.
Ackermann, L. , Danek, C. , Gierz, P. and Lohmann, G. (2020) AMOC Recovery in a Multicentennial Scenario Using a Coupled Atmosphere‐Ocean‐Ice Sheet Model. Geophysical Research Letters, 47 (16). e2019GL086810. DOI 10.1029/2019GL086810.
Natural methane emissions – from the glacial to the present
In a new study in Climate of the Past Kleinen, Mikolajewicz, and Brovkin (Max Planck Institute for Meteorology), were able to show that the changes in methane concentration between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, about 20000 years ago) and the preindustrial late Holocene (PI), 300 years ago, can be explained entirely by changes in the natural methane emissions caused by environmental changes.
Natural net emissions of methane in the present-day climate. Credit: Thomas Kleinen
Kleinen, Thomas , Mikolajewicz, Uwe und Brovkin, Victor (2020) Terrestrial methane emissions from the Last Glacial Maximum to the preindustrial period. Climate of the Past, 16 (2). pp. 575-595. DOI 10.5194/cp-16-575-2020.
PalMod I Highlights
Freshwater release and elevation loss affect climate during Heinrich events
A team of researchers around Dr. Florian Ziemen at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology found that Heinrich events, climate changes during the last ice age, were caused by a succession of the effects of two mechanisms: iceberg calving, having effects on the ocean, and ice sheet elevation loss, having effects on the atmosphere. Using a novel model setup, they were able to study the relationship between the two individual effects. They were the first to observe the succession of both effects in one simulation.
Citation: Ziemen, F., Kapsch, M.-L., Klockmann, M., & Mikolajewicz, U. (2019). Heinrich events show two-stage climate response in transient glacial simulations. Climate of the Past, 15, 153-168. doi:10.5194/cp-15-153-2019
How cold was Antarctica during the last ice age?
In a recent study by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute together with French colleagues temperature changes in Antarctica during the last ice age have been reconstructed. Ice core data and model results indicate a much stronger cooling of West Antarctica than East Antarctica during that time. Furthermore, the study enabled a new estimate of Antarctic ice sheet height changes during this past climate stage. The results of this study have been recently published in Nature Communications.
Citation: Reconciling glacial Antarctic water stable isotopes with ice sheet topography and the isotopic paleothermometer; Martin Werner, Jean Jouzel, Valérie Masson-Delmotte & Gerrit Lohmann; Nature Communicationsvolume 9, Article number: 3537 (2018)
Throughout the last 800,000 years, Antarctic temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations showed a similar evolution. However, this was different during the transition to the last ice age: approximately 80,000 years ago, temperature declined, while the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere remained relatively stable. An international research team led by the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the Alfred-Wegener-Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research has now discovered that a falling sea level may have caused enhanced volcanic activity in the ocean, which can explain the anomaly. The results are published today in the journal Nature Communications.