Climate tipping points refer to sudden rapid transitions of the Earth’s climate that are precipitated by initially small changes of the natural environment. For instance, tipping points could correspond to the activation of positive feedback loops that then lead to a major change in the climate. An example of one such feedback loop would be the decrease in the extent of Arctic sea ice cover, or equivalently a decrease in the Earth’s albedo, which would result in the Earth warming and a further decrease in sea ice cover. Thus, the loss of sea ice could potentially correspond to approaching a climate tipping point.
Over the past years, mathematicians have begun to develop mathematical theories of tipping points, which identified a variety of different mechanisms. These mechanisms rely on different assumptions about the underlying dynamic behavior and involve, for instance, passage through bifurcations, fast-slow time scales, stochastic effects, and different types of forcing. This is an active and rapidly growing area of research in applied mathematics, and many new ideas will be needed to gain more insight into tipping points.
To help develop new ideas and to expose more early career researchers to climate tipping points, the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM), an NSF funded mathematical sciences institute at Brown University, will hold an IdeaLab during July 15-19, 2013. Twenty early-career researchers will work for a week in teams on projects in
– Tipping Points in Climate Systems
– Towards Efficient Homomorphic Encryption
IdeaLabs bring together researchers with different backgrounds to brainstorm and get a fresh look at interesting and exciting topics of current interest. This is a great opportunity to learn more about tipping points, share ideas with peers, and get to know program officers from different funding agencies who will outline funding opportunities. Applications to this program will still be considered: more information can be found here.