Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity

We aim to identify risks from low-probability, high-impact possibilities with global-scale ramifications. What is known about their occurrence probabilities and consequences, and what significant scientific gaps exist? This theme will seek to identify any unexpected risks (cf. ozone hole resulting from heterogeneous chemistry) and to better incorporate known risks into projection ensembles. Risks that we will consider will include large natural carbon release, ice shelf/sheet collapse, regime shift of ocean/atmosphere circulation, extreme cloud feedbacks and climate sensitivity, the multiplicative effect of compound hazards, biome (e.g., Amazon) collapse, “Fireball Earth,” and large-scale extremes that challenge adaptation such as large-scale desertification, land, and marine heatwaves or storm sequences that exceed physiological limits or otherwise render large regions effectively uninhabitable.

We will identify adaptation limits for human, land, and ocean ecosystems and resources, worst case (extreme/existential) scenarios, and global-scale tipping elements and points. We will also examine how (or if) tail risks could be avoided – or caused – by general or specific climate mitigation efforts, including negative emissions (Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)) or geoengineering / Solar Radiation Management (SRM). This activity will be informed by the results from the carbon cycle, water, and sea level themes.


  • Sufficient understanding of the physical processes underlying tipping points and high-impact events to reliably quantify risks
  • Earth System Models that can credibly incorporate tail risks, compound extremes, uncertain shocks, and tipping elements including those arising from feedbacks between multiple components of the Earth system
  • Strategies to accurately and transparently incorporate low probability/high impact possibilities into projections, risk analysis, and adaptation planning. We anticipate collaboration with the Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) project and others for expertise on scenarios and planning.

Working Group:

Gabi Hegerl (Lead) University of Edinburgh UK
Bette  Otto-Bliesner (Lead) National Center for Atmospheric Research USA
Hannah Liddy Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR), The Earth Institute, Columbia Climate School, The Earth Institute USA
Thomas Lontzek RWTH Aachen University Germany
Izidine Pinto University of Cape Town/ Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre South Africa
Ryan Sriver University of Illinois USA

Contact: Narelle van der Wel - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Affiliate Members:

Ramia Al Bakain The University of Jordan, Department of Chemistry  Jordan
Ayanlade Ayansina Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria
Ana Bastos Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Germany
Emanuele Bevacqua Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ Germany
Oliver Bothe Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon Germany
Kevin Bourne IHS Markit UK
Timothy Cowan University of Southern Queensland Australia
Mastawesha Misganaw Engdaw Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz Austria
Erich Fischer ETH Zürich Switzerland
Christian Franzke Center for Climate Physics, Institute for Basic Science China
Pierre  Friedlingstein University of Exeter, Paris Sciences et Lettres University UK, France
Silvia Frisia Conjoint University of Newcastle Australia Australia
Zengchao Hao Beijing Normal University China
Luke Harrington New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington NZ
Nasim Hossein Hamzeh Atmospheric Science & Meteorogical Research Center (ASMERC) Iran
Timo Kelder Loughborough University UK
Hyungjun Kim Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and University of Tokyo, Japan Korea/Japan
Nirmal Kavindra Kularathne University of Sri Jayewardenepura Sri Lanka
Gad Levy Pan-Ocean Remote Sensing Association/NorthWest Research Association USA
Christopher Little Atmospheric and Environmental Research USA
Prajakta Mohite MSc Student India
Hasibun Naher BRAC University Bangladesh
Abdalla  Osman Adam Abdalla  University of Bahri  Sudan
Roshin P. Raj Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center Norway
Andreas Prein National Center for Atmospheric Research USA
Athanasios Sfetsos NCSR Demokritos Greece
Naeem Shahzad National University of Sciences and Technology Pakistan
Alois Tilloy European Comission Italy
Dongxiao Wang Sun Yat-sen University China
Peter Watson Univerisity of Bristol UK
Yangyang Xu Texas A&M Univerisity USA