Interacting Tipping Elements Increase Risk of Climate Domino Effects under Global Warming


The authors use Boolean and dynamic network models to investigate how the the interactions of climate tipping elements (Greenland Ice Sheet, West Antarctic Ice Sheet, Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), El Niño-Southern Oscillation, and Amazon rainforest) could produce domino effects (or tipping cascades) across other tipping elements. They find that tipping points in the Greenland Ice Sheet (estimated to occur in the range of 0.8-3.2°C above pre-industrial temperatures) and in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (estimated in the 0.8-5.5°C range) are most likely to be dominant initiators of tipping cascades, whereas “the strong positive–negative feedback loop between the Greenland Ice Sheet and the AMOC might act as a stabiliser to the Earth system.” “Risk increases significantly when considering interactions between these climate tipping elements and that these interactions …effectively push the critical threshold temperatures to lower warming levels, thereby reducing the overall stability of the climate system.”


Nico Wunderling, Jonathan F. Donges, Jürgen Kurths, and Ricarda Winkelmann

Publication Date

3 June 2021


Earth System Dynamics (vol. 12, iss. 2)



Resource Type

Academic Journal Article

Systems Addressed

Climate • Earth System
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