Category Archives: Thresholds

Social Tipping Points and Earth Systems Dynamics

Recently, Early Warning Signals (EWS) have been developed to predict tipping points in Earth Systems. This discussion highlights the potential to apply EWS to human social and economic systems, which may also undergo similar critical transitions. Social tipping points are … Continue reading

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Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere

Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and … Continue reading

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Early warning of Climate Tipping Points

A climate ‘tipping point’ occurs when a small change in forcing triggers a strongly nonlinear response in the internal dynamics of part of the climate system, qualitatively changing its future state. Human-induced climate change could push several large-scale ‘tipping elements’ … Continue reading

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Early-warning signals for Critical Transitions

Complex dynamical systems, ranging from ecosystems to financial markets and the climate, can have tipping points at which a sudden shift to a contrasting dynamical regime may occur. Although predicting such critical points before they are reached is extremely difficult, … Continue reading

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Anticipating Critical Transitions

Tipping points in complex systems may imply risks of unwanted collapse, but also opportunities for positive change. Our capacity to navigate such risks and opportunities can be boosted by combining emerging insights from two unconnected fields of research. One line … Continue reading

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Living Dangerously on Borrowed Time during slow, unrecognized Regime Shifts

Regime shifts from one ecological state to another are often portrayed as sudden, dramatic, and difficult to reverse. Yet many regime shifts unfold slowly and imperceptibly after a tipping point has been exceeded, especially at regional and global scales. These … Continue reading

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On the Sensitivity of Collective Action to Uncertainty about Climate Tipping Points

Previous research shows that collective action to avoid a catastrophic threshold, such as a climate “tipping point,” is unaffected by uncertainty about the impact of crossing the threshold but that collective action collapses if the location of the threshold is … Continue reading

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Phase Transitions

(Chapters 9, 12, 13, 14 & 16) Ecosystems are complex and adaptive, displaying nontrivial forms of organization in both space and time. An important component of change in ecological systems involves the rapid response of some communities to slow changes … Continue reading

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Resilience Thinking and Large-scale Transformations in Social-ecological Systems

Despite pleas for major change, there is still a lack of understanding of the mechanisms and patterns involved, and of the conditions under which critical transformations can emerge. This lack of understanding greatly decreases the chances for successfully navigating transformation … Continue reading

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