Climate set for 'sudden shifts' -bbc news
They argue that society should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the idea that climate change will be a gradual process.
The work by an international team appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
"Our findings suggest that a variety of tipping elements could reach their critical point within this century under human-induced climate change," said Professor Tim Lenton from the University of East Anglia, the lead researcher on the study.
[b]The researchers have listed and ranked nine ecological systems that they say could be lost this century as a result of global warming. The nine tipping elements and the time it will take them to undergo a major transition are:
* Melting of Arctic sea-ice (about 10 years)
* Decay of the Greenland ice sheet (about 300 years)
* Collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet (about 300 years)
* Collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (about 100 years)
* Increase in the El Nino Southern Oscillation (about 100 years)
* Collapse of the Indian summer monsoon (about 1 year)
* Greening of the Sahara/Sahel and disruption of the West African monsoon (about 10 years)
* Dieback of the Amazon rainforest (about 50 years)
* Dieback of the Boreal Forest (about 50 years)[/b]
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