2.4.3 State of literature on cascades and tipping points

We use topic modelling (see Box 2.4.1) to identify 30 unique clusters, which indicate research areas, of tipping point topics (Figure, 2.4.5) to see what areas are being researched. The results show that focus is on large-scale ecosystem phenomena, such as sea ice, coastal flooding, and coral reefs (see Figures 2.4.1-2.4.4). At the same time, human-related research tends to focus on how behaviour and policy can influence the natural world. Through this lens, humans are viewed almost exclusively as the driver of tipping cascades. Though some clusters, notably adaptation_coastal_flood_rise, do flag ‘urban’ as a focus, there is a notable lack of topic clusters dedicated to how humans will be impacted by climate-related tipping cascades.

Figure: 2.4.1
Figure: 2.4.1 Climate change tipping points.
Figure: 2.4.2
Figure: 2.4.2 Ice arctic sea seaice.
Figure: 2.4.3
Figure: 2.4.3 Adaptation coastal flood rise.
Figure: 2.4.4
Figure: 2.4.4 Marine species reef coral.

Growth in climate tipping point and cascade-related literature has been steadily increasing since 1998, as shown in Figure 2.4.5 but this overall trend is not reflected consistently across research fields. The majority of research areas appear to undergo a ‘feast or famine’ cycle, with publication spiking and dropping. Several research areas also experience publication droughts. In these, nothing relevant to the topic cluster is published, sometimes for several years. In the research areas relating to policy, there are significantly more publications pertaining to carbon regulation than there are relating to conflicts, disasters or financial issues. This could imply that, to date, more focus has been on the identifying mechanisms for carbon emissions-related tipping, rather than the preparation for potential consequences.

Figure: 2.4.5
Figure: 2.4.5 Unique topic clusters generated using BERTopic ranked by the associated volume of publications within each, and the temporal dynamics thereof.  
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