An important and exciting focus of climate science addresses tipping points, which are non-linear reinforcing feedbacks within the climate system. Current climate research has identified at least a dozen different important climate tipping points that could possibly be triggered in the near future, with significant implications for human society; these include changes to glaciers, permafrost, ocean circulation, surface albedo, ocean acidity, and the biomass storage of carbon. This presentation will address what these tipping points are, why they are potentially dangerous, and how best to teach about them. The topic of climate tipping points aligns with several of the NGSS Earth and space science performance expectations and also strongly aligns with the NGSS CCC on the Stability and Change of systems. Ideas will be presented for phenomena and storylines addressing climate tipping points, which can be used in a chemistry, Earth science, environmental science, or physical science course.
The subject of climate system tipping points is societally timely and important, and is an engaging topic for addressing NGSS several performance expectations in Earth and space science, and helping students understand the NGSS crosscutting concept of Stability and Change.
Michael Wysession (Washington University in St. Louis: Saint Louis, MO)