U.S. Labs Study Abrupt Climate Change

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Four Horrifying Scenarios Under Consideration

Scientists from six national laboratories in the U.S. have been assigned to study the potential of sudden and potentially devastating climate change, driven by feedback mechanisms that could produce centuries of warming in only a few decades

Saying that a 10 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures is not unlikely, the scientists are looking at four global warming feedbacks that have the capacity to trigger abrupt climate change.

1. Instability among marine ice sheets, particularly the West Antarctic ice sheet (which have already started to peel off)

2. Positive feedback mechanisms in subarctic forests and arctic ecosystems, leading to rapid methane release or large-scale changes in the surface energy balance (See Ross’s story today)

3. Destabilization of methane hydrates – vast deposits of methane gas caged in water ice – particularly in the Arctic Ocean

4. Feedback between biosphere and atmosphere that could lead to megadroughts in North America

The research project is called IMPACTS, which stands for Investigation of the Magnitudes and Probabilities of Abrupt Climate Transitions.

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