The National Academies of Science defines abrupt climate change "as large and rapid changes in the physical climate system. [These] changes take place within years to decades, unfold faster than expected, planned for, or budgeted for and leave little time for society and ecosystems to adapt." In December 2013, the National Research Council released a report on abrupt climate change that highlights the abrupt climate changes that are already underway such as the disappearance of late-summer Arctic sea ice as well as describes the abrupt changes that are unlikely to occur in this century.
According to the National Academies of Science, the report, Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises "summarizes the current state of knowledge on potential abrupt changes to the ocean, atmosphere, ecosystems, and high latitude areas, and identifies key research and monitoring needs. The report calls for action to develop an abrupt change early warning system to help anticipate future abrupt changes and reduce their impacts." The report can be read online or is available for free download as pdf. In addition to the report, a slideshow of images and figures related to the report is available, along with a 4-page summary. The webcast of the December 3 public briefing and the slides used during the presentation are also available.