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Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating surprises

Abrupt change is a hallmark of the climate record. It has happened in the past, and is already happening in some systems now.

Abrupt climate change—large shifts in climate that take place within decades or even years—is the topic of increasing concern because of the potential for such changes to happen faster than society or ecosystems could adapt. A new report from the National Research Council evaluates the potential for abrupt changes in the ocean, atmosphere, ecosystems, and high latitude regions to help decision makers and communities make informed decisions about how to prepare for sudden changes. The report calls for an early warning system to help society better anticipate abrupt changes.

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