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It happens like a boat tipping
A 2003 Science magazine review by Pennsylvania State University climatologist Richard Alley centered on historic threshold behavior, such as the sudden droughts that triggered the 1930s Dust Bowl.
Alley warned that such shifts occur like a capsizing boat: "Leaning slightly over the side of a canoe will cause only a small tilt, but leaning slightly more may roll you and the craft into the lake."
All of the current climate models and climate sensitivity findings rely on the weather operating in the future much as it has in the past, with small tilts, says Duke University climatologist Gabriele Hegerl. A few big things going wrong could throw comfortable assumptions out the window: