SparcS Center


Paper on Anticipating Critical Transitions just published in Science today!

Scheffer, M., Carpenter, S.R., Lenton, T.M., Bascompte, J., Brock, W., Dakos, V., van de Koppel, J. van de Leemput, I. A., Levin, S. A., van Nes, E. H., Pascual, M., Vandermeer, J. (2012). Anticipating Critical Transitions. Science, 338, 344–348.

This is how the Science Editor summarized our work today:
"Research on early warning signals for critical transitions in complex systems such as ecosystems, climate, and global finance systems recently has been gathering pace. At the same time, studies on complex networks are starting to reveal which architecture may cause systems to be vulnerable to systemic collapse. Scheffer et al. review how previously isolated lines of work can be connected, conclude that many critical transitions (such as escape from the poverty trap) can have positive outcomes, and highlight how the new approaches to sensing fragility can help to detect both risks and opportunities for desired change."


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 of work is revealing fundamental architectural features that may cause ecological networks, financial markets, and other complex systems to have tipping points. Another field of research is uncovering generic empirical indicators of the proximity to such critical thresholds. Although sudden shifts in complex systems will inevitably continue to surprise us, work at the crossroads of these emerging fields offers new approaches for anticipating critical transitions.

19 Oct 2012

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