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Archive for July 2012

Using dynamical systems concepts to understand the climate change tipping point

With rising global temperatures accompanied by changes in weather and climate there is no question that the Earth is warming: the average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century. But how do we know when we reach a tipping point, if we haven’t already?

With ongoing abrupt shifts of the climate system that have happened for decades, it’s hard to say when a threshold is reached. Hence, some scientists are now using mathematical observations and tools to answer the tipping-point question.

Marten Scheffer, a biologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, is trying to identify early-warning signals for climate change by using dynamical systems techniques to determine abrupt transitions that would precede such a tipping point.

By studying yearly recurring patterns of climate— rather than global average temperatures —Tim Lenton, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter in England has detected climate systems that could reach tipping points not too far in the future.

Research such as this, using principles from dynamical systems, could give valuable insights into the future of the climate system.

Read the full article on the New York Times site.

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