CORDIS - EU research results

Exploring Tipping Points and Their Impacts Using Earth System Models

Project description

Unveiling Earth’s tipping points to prepare society

At the precipice of ecological instability lie tipping points. These are critical thresholds in the Earth system where small changes can lead to irreversible and catastrophic consequences. In this context, the EU-funded TipESM project brings together a diverse team of scientists to study these tipping points. Using state-of-the-art Earth System Models, this international collaboration offers hope in the face of impending climate challenges. Specifically, the project aims to pioneer early warning indicators and emission pathways that mitigate the risk of crossing these perilous thresholds. TipESM scrutinises critical processes like ice sheets, vegetation, and marine biogeochemistry. By developing a tipping points risk register, the project promises a more informed and prepared society.


TipESM brings together scientists from a range of disciplines to deliver a step change in our understanding of climate tipping points in the Earth system, including their impact on ecosystems and society, combined with a set of early warning indicators and safe future emission pathways that minimise the risk of exceeding such tipping points.

TipESM assembles the latest Earth System Models (ESMs), including recent improvements to key processes: ice sheets, vegetation and land use, permafrost, marine and terrestrial biogeochemistry. In cooperation with the WCRP/Future-Earth project TIPMIP, TipESM will organise an international collaboration to design and realise a common ESM experiment protocol that will facilitate analysis of the likelihood of occurrence, and potential reversibility, of tipping elements at different levels and duration of global warming. These experiments, will be combined with more project-specific ESM experiments, designed to investigate interactions and feedbacks across the Earth system. Based on the TipESM experiments, existing simulations and observations, we will investigate tipping points, their driving processes, potential early warning signals and cascading effects across the climate, ecosystems and society. Including the most important components of the Earth system in our ESMs will also allow TipESM to identify potentially unknown tipping elements, their precursors and impacts.

TipESM brings together expertise from climate science and climate impacts to investigate both the role of gradual climate change for tipping in individual ecosystems and society, and the impact of crossing specific climate tipping points for society, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Project findings will be synthesised into a tipping points risk register. New knowledge and data from TipESM will be regularly communicated to a broad range of research communities, policymakers and the public, contributing to a prepared and resilient society.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 355 606,27

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Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
No data

Participants (8)

Partners (6)