RISK ASSESSMENT AND ADAPTING STRATEGIES FOR POST-TIPPING POINT CLIMATE DISRUPTIONS: LESSONS FROM THE MIDDLE MIOCENE
The current level and rapid increasing rate of CO2 emissions will soon exceed that of Pliocene and approach the middle Miocene levels, making the Miocene Climate Optimum (MCO) a suitable analog for near-future climate of the coming decades. Shedding light on of cryospheric, hydrologic, and biological responses before, during, and post MCO will expand the human-experienced climate baseline and provide the scientific base for long-term strategies and policy decisions under high RCP projections. Our research focuses on precisely-dated and annually-resolved middle Miocene lacustrine deposits in Clarkia, northern Idaho. Decadal scale CO2 and temperature records reconstructed within a 1,000 years’ time window during the MCO in Clarkia capture novel climate behaviors that can be compared with near-future human societal time scale with high CO2 concentrations. Middle Miocene geologic records display an Earth system and its disruptions that humanity will likely encounter after the climate tipping point. Our analyses raise serious concerns about adaptive capacity and call for reconsidering adaptation strategies ranging from design of infrastructure to mitigating natural hazard risk in order to combat the existential threat of climate change.