The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Using GENIE to study a tipping point in the climate system

Lenton, Timothy M., Myerscough, Richard J., Marsh, Robert, Livina, Valerie N., Price, Andrew R. and Cox, Simon J. (2009) Using GENIE to study a tipping point in the climate system Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A, 367, (1890), pp. 871-884. (doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0171).

Record type: Article


We have used the Grid ENabled Integrated Earth system modelling framework to study the archetypal example of a tipping point in the climate system; a threshold for the collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC). eScience has been invaluable in this work and we explain how we have made it work for us. Two stable states of the THC have been found to coexist, under the same boundary conditions, in a hierarchy of models. The climate forcing required to collapse the THC and the reversibility or irreversibility of such a collapse depends on uncertain model parameters. Automated methods have been used to assimilate observational data to constrain the pertinent parameters. Anthropogenic climate forcing leads to a robust weakening of the THC and increases the probability of crossing a THC tipping point, but some ensemble members collapse readily, whereas others are extremely resistant. Hence, we test general methods that have been developed to directly diagnose, from time-series data, the proximity of a ‘tipping element’, such as the THC to a bifurcation point. In a three-dimensional ocean–atmosphere model exhibiting THC hysteresis, despite high variability in the THC driven by the dynamical atmosphere, some early warning of an approaching tipping point appears possible.

Text rsta.2008.0171.pdf - Version of Record
Download (362kB)

More information

Published date: 13 March 2009
Keywords: escience, earth system modelling, climate change, atlantic thermohaline circulation, tipping point, early warning
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Engineering Sciences


Local EPrints ID: 65084
ISSN: 1364-503X
PURE UUID: a93830b5-2494-4610-8b75-1ace52415682

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 29 Jan 2009
Last modified: 15 Sep 2017 16:31

Export record



Author: Timothy M. Lenton
Author: Richard J. Myerscough
Author: Robert Marsh
Author: Valerie N. Livina
Author: Andrew R. Price
Author: Simon J. Cox

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.