This special issue on Earth System Dynamics Special Issue on Tipping Points in the Anthropocene aims to synthesise tipping point research, focusing on “bad” and “good” tipping points related to climate change. It will update the status of climate and Earth system tipping points across climate-ecological-social systems and positive tipping points of transformative social-technological-ecological change.

The latest paper has been added to this special issue: Climate tipping point interactions and cascades: a review. The paper identifies the role of climate tipping elements as critical sub-systems in the overall climate tipping points system, identifying that these sub-system tipping elements may be more at risk of climate change destabilisation than previously realised. Whilst the understanding of tipping elements continues to grow, the understanding of interactions between tipping elements remains less explored and with increasing urgency as critical thresholds may be reached due to global warming, causing significant impacts on the biosphere and human societies.

Recognising that based on recent research, tipping cascades may occur on longer timescales at global warming levels between 1.5 and 2.0 ∘C and on shorter timescales if global warming exceeds 2.0 ∘C. The researchers propose four strategies to address the current and urgent knowledge gaps using observation-based approaches, Earth system modelling expertise, computational advances, and expert knowledge.

The series also formed the basis for the first “Tipping Points Status Report” for COP28 (November 2023). Global Tipping Points Report is the most comprehensive assessment of tipping points ever conducted, produced by an international team of more than 200 researchers. The report outlined the potential risk from negative Earth system tipping points. Regarded as small changes produce rapid and irreversible transformations, setting humanity on a disastrous trajectory. Identifying that at least five Earth system tipping points will likely be triggered with global warming above 1.5°C. A set of six key recommendations accompanied this to change course by phasing out fossil fuels, strengthening adaptation and governance, including tipping points in climate policy, and coordinating efforts to trigger positive tipping points. The report also recognised that a cascade of positive tipping points could steer a path towards a thriving, sustainable future. It outlines a blueprint for this and says bold, coordinated policies could trigger tipping points across multiple sectors.

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