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Selection: Schellnhuber:HJ [8 articles] 

Publications by author Schellnhuber:HJ.

Trajectories of the Earth system in the Anthropocene

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (06 August 2018), 201810141,


We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the ...


Three years to safeguard our climate

Nature, Vol. 546, No. 7660. (28 June 2017), pp. 593-595,


Christiana Figueres and colleagues set out a six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020. [Excerpt] [...] According to an April report1 (prepared by Carbon Tracker in London, the Climate Action Tracker consortium, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut), should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable. The UN Sustainable Development Goals that were agreed ...


Statistical significance of seasonal warming/cooling trends

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 15. (11 April 2017), pp. E2998-E3003,


[Significance] The question whether a seasonal climatic trend (e.g., the increase of spring temperatures in Antarctica in the last decades) is of anthropogenic or natural origin is of great importance because seasonal climatic trends may considerably affect ecological systems, agricultural yields, and human societies. Previous studies assumed that the seasonal records can be treated as independent and are characterized by short-term memory only. Here we show that both assumptions, which may lead to a considerable overestimation of the trend significance, do not ...


System crash as dynamics of complex networks

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, No. 42. (18 October 2016), pp. 11726-11731,


[Significance] System crash, as an essential part of system evolution, sometimes happens in peculiar manners: Weakened systems may survive for a surprisingly long time before suddenly meeting their final ends, whereas seemingly unbeatable giants may drastically crash to virtual nonexistence. We propose a model that describes system crash as a consequence of some relatively simple local information-based individual behaviors: Individuals leave networks according to some most straightforward assessment of current and future benefits/risks. Of note, such a simple rule may enable a ...


Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 113, No. 33. (16 August 2016), pp. 9216-9221,


[Significance] Ethnic divides play a major role in many armed conflicts around the world and might serve as predetermined conflict lines following rapidly emerging societal tensions arising from disruptive events like natural disasters. We find evidence in global datasets that risk of armed-conflict outbreak is enhanced by climate-related disaster occurrence in ethnically fractionalized countries. Although we find no indications that environmental disasters directly trigger armed conflicts, our results imply that disasters might act as a threat multiplier in several of the world’s ...


Climate impact research: beyond patchwork

Earth System Dynamics, Vol. 5, No. 2. (13 November 2014), pp. 399-408,


Despite significant progress in climate impact research, the narratives that science can presently piece together of a 2, 3, 4, or 5 °C warmer world remain fragmentary. Here we briefly review past undertakings to characterise comprehensively and quantify climate impacts based on multi-model approaches. We then report on the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), a community-driven effort to compare impact models across sectors and scales systematically, and to quantify the uncertainties along the chain from greenhouse gas emissions and climate ...


  1. Arnell, N. W., Lowe, J. A., Brown, S., Gosling, S. N., Gottschalk, P., Hinkel, J., Lloyd-Hughes, B., Nicholls, R. J., Osborn, T. J., Osborne, T. M., Rose, G. A., Smith, P., and Warren, R. F.: A global assessment of the effects of climate policy on the impacts of climate change, Nat. Clim. Change, 3, 512–519, 2013.
  2. Asseng, S., Ewert, F., Rosenzweig, C., Jones, J. W., Hatfield, J. L., Ruane, A. C., Boote, K.

The Anthropocene: from global change to planetary stewardship

AMBIO, Vol. 40, No. 7. (12 October 2011), pp. 739-761,


Over the past century, the total material wealth of humanity has been enhanced. However, in the twenty-first century, we face scarcity in critical resources, the degradation of ecosystem services, and the erosion of the planet’s capability to absorb our wastes. Equity issues remain stubbornly difficult to solve. This situation is novel in its speed, its global scale and its threat to the resilience of the Earth System. The advent of the Anthropence, the time interval in which human activities now rival ...


Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105, No. 6. (12 February 2008), pp. 1786-1793,


The term “tipping point” commonly refers to a critical threshold at which a tiny perturbation can qualitatively alter the state or development of a system. Here we introduce the term “tipping element” to describe large-scale components of the Earth system that may pass a tipping point. We critically evaluate potential policy-relevant tipping elements in the climate system under anthropogenic forcing, drawing on the pertinent literature and a recent international workshop to compile a short list, and we assess where their tipping ...

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