surprises are guaranteed
Tipping Points are Often Unexpected
A challenge for anticipating climate change impacts on coastal waters is that these are very dynamic and difficult-to-predict physical systems. This non-linear unpredictability is a feature of amplifying feedback loops (vicious cycles) that produce surprisingly fast changes, increasing the chances of rapid and negative tipping points in coastal geophysical systems that socio-economic systems are not prepared for (e.g., National Academy of Sciences, 2002; USGCRP; 2018; Lenton, 2019.).
Rapid changes in large climate and ecological systems are well-documented, (National Academy of Sciences. 2002.). Triggering tipping points in one system can increase the risk of crossing thresholds in others (e.g., Rocha et al. 2018). Multiple global ocean systems are of concern, examples that involve east Florida include a) the potential for rapid sea level rise associated with abrupt melting increases on the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet or Greenland, and b) accelerated changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and the Gulf Stream (IPCC, 2019).
With continued annual increases in CO2 and methane emissions, accelerating releases of methane from the melting of permafrost, and other processes ( IPCC, 2019; NASA, 2020), mid- and late-21st century challenges to the oceans are already quite substantial – and underestimated until recently (Rocha et al. 2018). Betting against steady or more rapid changes in complex geophysical systems overlooks both science and history (National Academy of Sciences, 2002; Lenton, 2019).