Tipping point for the climate can already be a reality in East Asia

The climate in inner East Asia may already have reached a tipping point, where recent years’ transition to abnormally hot and dry summers can be irreversible. This is the finding of a new international study by researchers at University of Gothenburg now published in Science.

Associated with the ongoing global warming, are changes that impact regional climate and ecosystems. In a worst- case scenario, these can reach what is known as a tipping point, at which point changes are fast and often times irreversible. Inner

East Asia, which includes Mongolia and nearby areas, is a sensitive region that has experienced a clear increase in the number of heat waves during the summer in recent decades. Together with stable high-pressure systems, which raise temperatures, reduced soil moisture can cause intense and long-lasting heat waves because of enhanced interaction between the land surface and the atmosphere.

“By combining observations, reconstructions and climate model data, we discovered that the link between land surface and atmosphere has become more pronounced in inner East Asia over the last 20 years, along with increased drying of soils. So we argue that reduced soil moisture enhances land-atmosphere coupling contributing to heating of the land surface, which causes more heat waves, which in turn reduces soil moisture and so on,” says Peng, one of the authors.

Tipping point for the climate can already be a reality in East Asia (gu.se)