Three EU-funded projects under the Horizon 2020 programme, Tipping Points in the Earth System (TiPES), Our Common Future Ocean in the Earth System (COMFORT), and Tipping Points in Antarctic Climate Components (TiPACCs) have worked together towards developing a policy brief that presents the key findings to date from these projects. On that basis, we jointly formulated persisting knowledge gaps as well as policy recommendations.
The projects are hosted by The University of Copenhagen, The University of Bergen and NORCE and involve Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.
A special report focussing on tipping points in the IPCC context is urgently needed to synthesise existing knowledge across the different scientific communities and inform policy makers and the general public about the risks of crossing tipping points in response to anthropogenic climate change.
Urgent implementation of a drastic reduction of GHG emissions, which are the primary cause of global warming and ocean acidification, in order to avoid further stability loss of major Earth system tipping elements and long-lasting changes in ocean properties.
Reduction of deforestation rates in both tropical and boreal forests alongside efforts toward binding international agreements to limit land-use change to sustainable levels. A global satellite-based monitoring system should also be implemented to assess the health of terrestrial ecosystems. At the same time, large-scale ecosystem protection and reforestation will help reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations globally and reduce drought risk regionally.
Appropriate global resource management needs to be implemented to achieve GHG emission reductions in line with the Paris Agreement, and to avoid problematic path dependencies and lock-in situations. Human societies must engage in the transformation towards i) green energy production, ii) sustainable exploitation and food production both on land and in the ocean, and iii) climate-friendly land use and urban planning and development.
Climate-neutral transformations need to be achieved urgently: there is already progress underway, such as the notable European Union Green Deal, including the goal to become climate neutral by 2050 supported by the ‘Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030’ Mission, as well as the European Climate Pact. However, it is critical that these processes are accelerated to prevent the cumulative and compounding negative societal and Earth system impact.
Download the policy brief summarising findings of all three tipping point projectshere.
In a joint seminar and discussion series organised by AIMES, WCRP, and the Earth commission on ‘Tipping Elements, Irreversibility, and Abrupt Change’ an event on the ocean as a potential tipping element took place on 11 February 2022 with speakers Christoph Heinze (“Ocean tipping points – an overview”) and Stefan Rahmstorf (PIK, Germany) (“Recent insights on AMOC”, AMOC = Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) as well as moderators Didier Swingedouw (Univ. Bordeaux, France) and Helene Hewitt (UK MetOffice). Up to 363 participants followed the talks and subsequent discussions online. A number of important potential regime shifts such as the Arctic sea ice retreat, coral reef decline, and changes in biogeochemical regimes under further progressing deoxygenation were presented and discussed. A recording of the event can be watched below:
The general assembly 2021 of the H2020 project took place digitally 15-17 September with 80-90 participants from Europe, Australia, India, Japan, South Africa, US west coast and Hawaii in parallel. The plenary agenda included a suite of science highlights from all work packages, which included presentations from early career scientists, but also a region-oriented session, a poster session, a stakeholder group exchange session as well as a discussion with the international advisory board, and recommendations from our EU adviser. One of the highlights of the meeting was a fantastic presentation from Colin Jones (UK MetOffice) entitled “An overview of CMIP6: Robustness of results across the multi-model, multi-MIP ensemble“. We are pleased that the project is still on track despite the challenging situation in the ongoing crisis thanks to highly motivated scientists within the consortium. We also hope for an in-person meeting in 2022!
The general assembly and annual meeting of the EU H2020 project COMFORT on ocean tipping points was held digitally. The plenary meeting took place during 2-3 September 2020 through Zoom with always 80-90 active participants online, including attendees from Europe, Australia, Fiji, India, Japan, South Africa, US west coast and Hawaii in parallel. The plenary agenda included a suite of science highlights from the various work packages and from early career scientists, a poster session, a session with the stake holder reference group, a discussion with the international advisory board, and recommendations from our EU adviser especially concerning tackling the present crisis in the project flow. Elisabeth Holland from Fiji/USP reported about the situation with respect to climate change for island states and took us out of our ivory tower into the real-world challenges. Beth Fulton from Tasmania/CSIRO held a fabulous special lecture on ecosystem modelling and environmental thresholds. The project is still largely on track in spite of the challenging situation in the ongoing crisis. This is due to a consortium of highly motivated and skilled professional participants. We received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from the participants after the meeting. In the plenary, we focused on scientific presentations and discussions. Work package break out group meetings, governance panel meetings, and project management briefings had been held over the summer in smaller groups and the results had been made available through presentation-files to all before the plenary meeting. This worked well in practice and we heard from consortium members that they would like a similar format for annual meetings also when we can meet in person again.
“Our common future ocean in a changing climate” joint session of the H2020 projects COMFORT and TRIATLAS coordinated by UiB formed part of the Day Zero event of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) conference. The aim of the session was to provide fundamental knowledge on how to achieve SDG14 Life under water and SDG13 Climate action through international partnership of 57 institutes from 21 countries and to discuss how we, as scientists as society, can work together to achieve the SDGs. The session attracted a broad audience with a great number of students, non-scientists and non-specialists from outside of academia.
The event consisted of three major parts:
1) Two presentations: “Ocean under climate change” by Christoph Heinze focusing on the ocean acidification, warming and de-oxygenation and “Forecasting the ocean from temperature to fish” by Filippa Fransner focusing on climate predictions.
2) Enthusiastically received interactive quiz/poll with questions such as “What fraction of human-made carbon dioxide emissions does the ocean take up each year?” or “Why is climate prediction possible?”
3) Audience engaging panel discussion consisting of the Bjerkenss Centre for Climate Researchexperts: Are Olsen (moderator, UiB), Morten Skogen (IMR), Helene Langehaug (NERSC), Filippa Franser (UiB), Christoph Heinze (UiB) covered questions such as: “The SDGs are aimed to be achieved within the end of this decade. This is the time horizon of climate prediction models. Can they help to show us whether we are on the right track to achieve the SDGs?” or “We have the knowledge, and we have a global framework with quantified goals, nevertheless, in effect, nothing has been done. CO2 emissions are still rising. Why does the change take so much time?”
On October 9-11th 2019 at the EU H2020 COMFORT project kick-off meeting we had a pleasure to host over 70 researchers from 12 European, Canadian, Indian and South African institutes gathered in Bergen along with the European Commission project advisor, International Scientific Advisory Board members and Stakeholder Reference Group members who provided useful advice and stimulating discussion. The diverse scientific expertise resulted in interesting and truly stimulating discussions. During 2.5 day meeting we were able to make key decisions on the work plan for the next 4 years.
On 6 September 2019 the COMFORT project representatives (Christoph Heinze, Thorsten Blenckner, Dagmara Rusiecka) participated in a Coordinators’ Day event organised by the Executive Agency of Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME) in Brussels. This meeting was dedicated to the coordinators of the newly funded projects which started in 2019 under the Societal Challenge 5 “Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials” H2020-LC-CLA-01-03-08-2018 and H2020-SC5-15-2018 calls. The event brought together representatives of 16 EU funded projects, policy officers from the European Commission and project advisers from EASME.
• Focused on sharing information and best practices on some of the key aspects of the project management and implementation (open access, dissemination and exploitation, data management)
• Provided an unique opportunity for collaborations and synergies across multiple EU funded projects and European Commission representatives
• Enhanced understanding of the policy context to which the projects will contribute to.
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