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Posted Thu Dec 10 2009: from PNAS Special Feature:
Tipping elements in the Earth System
The Earth System (ES) is defined as the conglomerate formed by human civilization and its planetary matrix (i.e., all parts of the Earth that interact with the members and manifestations of our species)... Only singular transformations (that remove, add, or replace constitutive traits) are able to create entirely new characters.... but what about the monsoon systems, jet streams, coral mega-reefs, tropical rainforests, and iconic landscapes of the Holocene if the [Global Mean Temperature] rises by two, three, four, or more degrees? When answering these quintessential questions, it is natural to search for the most vulnerable ES components, i.e., those characteristic features that will be switched (out) first and (possibly) irreversibly as the planet warms. These features are the so-called tipping elements (TE)...
[Read more stories about: tipping point, ecosystem interrelationships, anthropogenic change]

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