Navigation Links
New UC Davis study: Climate 'tipping points' may arrive without warning, says top forecaster
Date:2/9/2010

A new University of California, Davis, study by a top ecological forecaster says it is harder than experts thought to predict when sudden shifts in Earth's natural systems will occur -- a worrisome finding for scientists trying to identify the tipping points that could push climate change into an irreparable global disaster.

"Many scientists are looking for the warning signs that herald sudden changes in natural systems, in hopes of forestalling those changes, or improving our preparations for them," said UC Davis theoretical ecologist Alan Hastings. "Our new study found, unfortunately, that regime shifts with potentially large consequences can happen without warning -- systems can 'tip' precipitously.

"This means that some effects of global climate change on ecosystems can be seen only once the effects are dramatic. By that point returning the system to a desirable state will be difficult, if not impossible."

The current study focuses on models from ecology, but its findings may be applicable to other complex systems, especially ones involving human dynamics such as harvesting of fish stocks or financial markets.

Hastings, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy, is one of the world's top experts in using mathematical models (sets of equations) to understand natural systems. His current studies range from researching the dynamics of salmon and cod populations to modeling plant and animal species' response to global climate change.

In 2006, Hastings received the Robert H. MacArthur Award, the highest honor given by the Ecological Society of America.

Hastings' collaborator and co-author on the new study, Derin Wysham, was previously a postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis and is now a research scientist in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology at the John Innes Center in Norwich, England.

Scientists widely agree that global climate change is already causing major environmental effects, such as changes in the frequency and intensity of precipitation, droughts, heat waves and wildfires; rising sea level; water shortages in arid regions; new and larger pest outbreaks afflicting crops and forests; and expanding ranges for tropical pathogens that cause human illness.

And they fear that worse is in store. As U.S. presidential science adviser John Holdren (not an author of the new UC Davis study) recently told a congressional committee: "Climate scientists worry about 'tipping points' ... thresholds beyond which a small additional increase in average temperature or some associated climate variable results in major changes to the affected system."

Among the tipping points Holdren listed were: the complete disappearance of Arctic sea ice in summer, leading to drastic changes in ocean circulation and climate patterns across the whole Northern Hemisphere; acceleration of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, driving rates of sea-level increase to 6 feet or more per century; and ocean acidification from carbon dioxide absorption, causing massive disruption in ocean food webs.


'/>"/>

Contact: Alan Hastings
amhastings@ucdavis.edu
530-752-8116
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UC Davis study confirms link between advanced maternal age and autism
2. UC Davis research confirms benefits of calcium and vitamin D in preventing fractures
3. UC Davis: Cash for Clunkers program is expensive way to cut carbon emissions
4. UC Davis challenge produces a better air conditioner
5. UC Davis grant zeroes in on novel asthma diagnosis and treatment
6. UC Davis researchers visualize formation of a new synapse
7. UC Davis begins $2.8 million in studies of agricultural nitrogens impacts
8. UC Davis bioengineer receives Hartwell Foundation grant to address skull fusion disorder of infants
9. UC Davis launches One Health care for wild mountain gorillas and human neighbors
10. UC Davis researchers identify a protein that may help breast cancer spread, beat cancer drugs
11. UC Davis bench-to-bedside research: Promising treatment in clinical trials
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/16/2016)... , Nov. 16, 2016 Sensory Inc ... and security for consumer electronics, and VeriTran ... and retail industry, today announced a global partnership ... way to authenticate users of mobile banking and ... TrulySecure™ software which requires no specialized biometric ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... SANTA CLARA, Calif. , Nov. 14, ... of the biometric identification market, Frost & ... Global Frost & Sullivan Award for Visionary ... leading player in the biometric identification market ... a multi-modal verification solution for instant, seamless, ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 On Monday, ... call to industry to share solutions for the Biometric ... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP ... are departing the United States , ... and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -  Equicare Health Inc ., ... been recognized as one of the top 100 companies ... international listing that distinguishes the top digital health companies ... great step forward this year continually upgrading our product ... customer base and team," says Len Grenier , ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 2016 Part of 5m$ Investment in ... ... Aptuit, LLC today announced that it had successfully completed the ... compounds have increased the Screening Collection to over 400,000. The ... capabilities of the company. This expansion, complemented by new robotics ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... T3D Therapeutics, Inc., a ... administered treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), today announced that CEO, John Didsbury, will ... of T3D-959 in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s patients at CTAD 2016. Preliminary results ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... Microbial genomics leader uBiome will ... Huffington, as part of the Thrive Global pop-up store. This stunning 5,000 square ... explore the microorganisms in their gut, collectively known as the microbiome. , The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: