Little Evidence Showing Climate “Tipping Points” Are Tipping At All! …Artefacts Of Simplistic Models

Geologist Dr. Sebastian Luning and chemist Prof. Fritz Vahrenohlt have recently looked at the so-called climate “Tipping Points” hypothesis, one that is heavily promoted by the alarmist Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

The idea of the climate irreversibly tipping into something completely different and potentially hostile once certain thresholds are reached is one often put forth by PIK head Prof. Hans-Joschim Schellnhuber, architect of the proposed “Great Transformation of Society“.

Good bye “Tipping Points”?
By Sebastian Luning and Fritz vahrenholt
(Translated/edited by P Gosselin)

Do you recall the horror reports of imminent climate tipping points?  They are often used to paint doomsday scenarios:


Figure: The tipping elements of the world’s climate, Source: PIK

A requirement is that critical thresholds be surpassed, due to the warming of the planet, and thus lead to a tipping of the climate system. This would be similar to the transition over to a new quality from the piling up of smaller quantities, as postulated by Karl Marx in his 3rd Development Law Of Dialectical Materialism. But there is one problem with this assertion in climatology: even the IPCC models (in the last report the CMIP5 models) aren’t playing along. They are forecasting (at least until 2100) more of a linear, steady development. The proponents of the catastrophe theories in fact use simpler modeling constructs for underpinning their Cassandra proclamations: most of them have been energy balance models showing a “catastrophic” shifting over. However, recent scientific studies have been published and they clearly refute the “tipping” claims. In the case of India’s summer monsoons it is written in the conclusion of a paper by Wiliam R. Boos of Yale University, PNAS:

Thus, outside of a theory that omitted a dominant term in the equations of motion, we know of no evidence supporting the idea that monsoons will shut down in response to anthropogenic forcings. Monsoons may have a strong response to anthropogenic forcings, but current theory and numerical models indicate that this response will be nearly linear.”

In another case concerning the “death spiral of Arctic sea ice” another published paper reached a similar conclusion: simple models exaggerated the possibility of a non-linear tipping point:

This result may help to reconcile the discrepancy between low-order models and comprehensive GCMs in previous studies. Specifically, it suggests that the low-order models overestimate the likelihood of a sea ice “tipping point.”

Authors Till J. Wagner and Ian Eisenman of the University of California also concluded that the non-linearity (collapse) of the AMOC (see our post here) was a mere artifact of an overly simplified model.

In another case depicted in the figure above we can also see that one tipping point theory predicts that from one year to the next only El Nino conditions will prevail in the Eastern Pacific. Look at the following figure: Nino 3.4  shows a trend of zero and the observation of sea surface temperatures has not diverted from the trend.

Figure: Monthly Nino 3.4 index

There’s no need to expect a shift over to some new quality, and thus follow in the footsteps of Karl Marx, who was accurate like no other in his analysis of society. His predictions failed spectacularly!


12 responses to “Little Evidence Showing Climate “Tipping Points” Are Tipping At All! …Artefacts Of Simplistic Models”

  1. John F. Hultquist

    Just want to say thanks.
    The following is for entertainment only:

    “… the low-order xxxxxx overestimate the likelihood of a sea ice “tipping point.”

    Pick one of the following or insert your favorite word(s) for “xxxxxx”:
    climate scientists;
    pot-heads of PIK;
    Gore acolytes;
    main stream media;

  2. Kenneth Richard

    According to scientists, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may *begin* to collapse if and only if nearby ocean waters warm by +5.0°C:
    “The WAIS will begin to collapse when nearby ocean temperatures warm by roughly 5°C. Global climate and regional ocean modeling is needed to predict when and if future ocean temperatures and melt rates under the major Antarctic ice shelves will increase by these amounts, and if so, for how long.”

    Nearby ocean temperatures have actually *cooled* since the late 1970s.
    “Cooling is evident over most of the Southern Ocean in all seasons and the annual mean, with magnitudes approximately 0.2–0.4°C per decade or 0.7–1.3°C over the 33 year period [1979-2011].”

    And, since 1955, global ocean temperatures have increased by less than 1/10th of 1 degree (0.09 C) in the 0-2000 m layer.
    “The World Ocean accounts for approximately 93% of the warming of the earth system that has occurred since 1955. … The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–2000 m layer increased by 24.0 ± 1.9 × 1022 J (±2S.E.) corresponding to a rate of 0.39 W m−2 (per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.09°C.”

    Additionally, the nearby ocean waters (WAIS) were 3.5°C warmer than now earlier in the Holocene, when CO2 levels were about 260 ppm. And the ice sheet didn’t collapse.
    “A marine sediment record from offshore of the western Antarctic Peninsula also shows an early Holocene optimum where surface ocean temperatures were determined to be ~3.5°C warmer than present, while the George VI ice shelf on the southwestern Antarctic Peninsula was absent during this early Holocene warm interval before reforming in the mid Holocene”

    Finally, even the IPCC agrees regarding tipping points:

    “There is little evidence in global climate models of a tipping point (or critical threshold) in the transition from a perennially ice-covered to a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean beyond which further sea ice loss is unstoppable and irreversible.” IPCC AR5 Chapter 12, page 7

    “Ice sheet collapse: Exceptionally unlikely (0-1%) that either Greenland or West Antarctic Ice sheets will suffer near-complete disintegration (high confidence).” IPCC AR5 Chapter 12, page 80

    Looks like the alarmism is baseless.

  3. Svend Ferdinandsen

    The tipping points are as most alarms only wild speculation.
    It is funny that even the most alarming models do not show tipping points, and they are normally said to show the “reality”.
    From history of Earth, the only real tipping point could be reversing to glaciation, but that is not at all mentioned in connection with tipping points even if it is very scaring.

  4. handjive

    Australia, 2006:

    ”We have a window of only 10 to 15 years to avoid crossing catastrophic tipping points. These would have serious consequences for our economic growth prospects, the safety of our people and the supply of resources, most notably energy.

    10 years is here, sans ‘tipping points’.

    1. AndyG55

      And of course, Australia has had zero warming this century. DOH !

    2. John F. Hultquist

      most notably energy

      That’s good for a laugh.
      Australia has about 31% of Earth’s known recoverable uranium. 2nd place goes to Kazakhstan with 12%. Don’t quote these numbers.
      The statement likely meant oil and gas, although I have no idea what it means. Last I knew OZ had coal, wind, and sun. Well, grapes (sugar) and wine (alcohol), too. Eucalyptus? Yes, and it is an energy source, as well.

      1. AndyG55

        We have immense coal seams down here, (some go deep and are not at all easy to get at)

        It will be much easier to extract coal seam gas from these….. we just need to get rid of the Greenies first, they seriously DO NOT like cheap energy.! 🙂

  5. Richard of NZ

    Please do not use Cassandra as an example of the catastrophists. Cassandra was not believed but was always correct, the exact opposite of the pronouncements of the “global warming” catastrophists who are always believed but always wrong.

  6. tom0mason

    The whole point of the notion of ‘tipping points’ was to allow a complete disregard to logic, science, and the evidence of natural phenomena. It is a method to convince the influential but ‘hard of thinking’ individuals, and political tools such things could happen.
    It is not science! It is computer modeled nonsense!

    I still ask all that propagate this nonsense to give observable evidence where these ‘tipping point’ events have happened previously in nature on comparable time scales to which they allude.
    No one has ever come forward with any reasonable, and verifiable examples. Such irreversibly dire tipping points are always yet to happen.
    Note — Like all scams, action must be immediate and confusingly wide-ranging, the forecast consequences of inaction are, without exception, dire.
    Also of note is there are no beneficial tipping points.

    I would therefore assert that the ‘tipping point’ notion is, like most of ‘climate science’, tosh and nonsense propagated by dangerous political advocates as part of their elaborate scheme to rob ordinary folk in Western democracies of their money, freedom, and political power.

    ‘Tipping points’ have no evidence, have no logic, and are certainly not scientific.

  7. John F. Hultquist

    Younger Dryas event — this might explain the belief in tipping points.

    I don’t think there is a good explanation for this event.
    Surely not human caused.
    Seems something happened. Then Earth systems recovered.

    Wikipedia (from other sources) has “… thought to have been caused by an influx of fresh cold water from North America into the Atlantic.”
    But, at different times, cold water went via the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico, via New York’s Mohawk Valley & Hudson River to the Atlantic, and the St. Lawrence farther north. At times cold water went via the Columbia River to the Pacific, and, finally,the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River’s watershed. See:
    The Mackenzie did it!

    Gives me a headache.

  8. Svend Ferdinandsen

    Good point. Also of note is there are no beneficial tipping points. – See more at:
    Who says that any tipping point would be to the worse.
    But according to the alarmist any change is to the worse, so we obviously live in the best of worlds, and any change what so ever would make it worse.
    Wonder if your grand parents had the same view.

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