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Discussion Series: Tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt change in the Earth system | Oceans

Online meeting

AIMES, the Earth Commission Working Group 1 Earth and Human Systems Intercomparison Modelling Project (EHSMIP) under the Global Commons Alliance, and the Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity of World Climate Research Program (WCRP) are organizing a discussion series that aims to advance the knowledge about tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system.

The discussion series is intended to support efforts to increase consistency in treatment of tipping elements in the scientific community, develop a research agenda, and design joint experiments and ideas for a Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project (TipMip). The primary objective is to create an international science platform for the study of climatic, ecological and social tipping elements and their interactions in the Earth system.


Discussion Series: Tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt change in the Earth system | Oceans

11 February 2022: 13:30 – 15:00 CET


This novel event will include presentations on ocean tipping points from world leading researchers. Register to be kept up to date.

Helene Hewitt and Didier Swingedouw will moderate the event.

  • Ocean tipping points - an overview – Christoph Heinze
  • Recent insights on AMOC – Stefan Rahmstorf
  • Q&A/ Discussion

The talks will be followed by 20 minutes of formal discussions and, for those who wish to stay on, a further 25 minutes of informal discussions on the topic.

Speaker information

Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf - University of Potsdam, Institute of Physics and Astronomy; Head of Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Prof. Rahmstorf's work focuses on the role of the oceans in climate change. Prof. Rahmstorf has been teaching Physics of the Oceans as a professor at Potsdam University since 2000. Rahmstorf is a member of the Academia Europaea and served from 2004-2013 in the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). He was also one of the lead authors of the 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC. In 2007 he became an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales and in 2010 a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. In 2017 he was the first scientist outside the US to be awarded the Climate Communication Prize of the American Geophysical Union. 

Prof. Christoph Heinze - Geophysical Institute and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen
Prof. Heinze's interest lie in modelling of marine biogeochemical cycles, quantifications of the global carbon cycle, simulation and interpretation of the climatic sediment record, feedbacks between biogeochemistry and climate and ocean tipping points. He served as lead author for IPCC AR4/WG1 and as review editor for IPCC AR5/WG1. Heinze is member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters since 2019.

Organizing institutions

Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System AIMES
The Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) project is an international network of Earth system scientists and scholars that seek to develop innovative, interdisciplinary ways to understand the complexity of the natural world and its interactions with human activities.

Through international science coordination and partnerships, AIMES addresses questions beyond the remit of a single institution or discipline to understand the complex interactions between biogeochemistry, Earth system dynamics, and socio-economic conditions under global environmental change. This strategy requires a new level of coordination between disciplinary or process-focused modeling and observations in order to make progress in understanding, predicting, and managing the Earth as an integrated system. AIMES is a global research project of Future Earth.

Earth Commission
The Earth Commission is a global team of scientists with the mission to define a safe and just corridor for people and planet. Working Group 1 Earth and Human Systems Intercomparison Modelling Project (EHSMIP) of the Earth Commission will identify, assess and model key interactions that regulate the state of the planetary (i.e., the physical climate system, the cryosphere, oceans, terrestrial biosphere systems, cycles of water, nutrients and carbon), and human systems. This will inform setting targets for a stable and safe planet, and will help us in developing and understanding pathways that are compatible with these targets.

The scientific guardrails defined by the Earth Commission will guide the Science Based Targets Network in developing tangible science-based targets tailored to cities and companies. The Earth Commission is hosted by Future Earth, the world’s largest network of sustainability scientists, and is the scientific cornerstone of the Global Commons Alliance.

World Climate Research Program WCRP Safe Landing Climates
The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity is an exploration of the routes to “safe landing” spaces for human and natural systems. It will explore future pathways that avoid dangerous climate change while at the same time contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those of climate action, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, and healthy ecosystems above and below water. The relevant time scale is multi-decadal to millennial. This event is part of a WCRP Lighthouse Activity.