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Users commented National Academies Press webcast-Abrupt Climate Changes

Comments : 1

RE: National Academies Press webcast-Abrupt Climate Changes

This is an excellent description of abrupt climate changes.  I thought this image of an "abrupt climate change" published by the US EPA would reinforce the message conveyed in your blog. The information pasted below is an excerpt from:

Rates of Climate Change [6] have varied over time

Studies of Earth’s past climate suggest periods of relative stability as well as periods of rapid change.

Periods of Relative Stability
Interglacial climate periods such as the present tend to be more stable than cooler, glacial climates. For example, Earth’s climate during the current interglacial period is more stable than the most recent glacial period. The glacial period was characterized by widespread, large, and abrupt climate changes. In contrast, the previous interglacial period was similarly stable. [1]

Glacier calving

This image shows a glacier calving, when a mass of ice suddenly releases and breaks away. Source: USDA

Periods of Abrupt Climate Change
Abrupt climate change refers to sudden (on the order of decades), large changes in some major component of the climate system, with rapid, widespread effects. Abrupt or rapid climate changes tend to frequently accompany transitions between glacial and interglacial periods (and vice versa). [2]  For example, a significant part of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly around Greenland, may have experienced very rapid warming of 14°F-28°F over several decades during and after the most recent ice age. [2]

Abrupt climate changes occur when a threshold or ‘tipping point’ in the climate system is crossed, causing large changes or impacts to the climate. Scientific data show that abrupt changes in climate at the regional scale have occurred throughout history and are characteristic of Earth’s climate system. Warming from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other human changes to the Earth system may increase the possibility of large and abrupt regional or global climatic events.