Promotie

Times are changing: Implications of climatechange for the occurrence and predictability of tipping points

Summary:

Complex systems in nature can have tipping points after which they abruptly change. Such abrupt transitions can have long-term dire consequences and are projected to increase under current climate change. Little is known, however, about the implications of changes in the relative timescales as a result of climate change. I found that fast rates of change and the structural changes in environmental variability affect both the occurrence and the detectability of these abrupt transitions.  Interacting timescales make it difficult to untangle changes in system dynamics from changes in the environment. The implications of climate change, however, are system-specific. Therefore, we should not give up on a priori detecting and reversing critical transitions driven by climate change. Instead, we should focus on developing methods for specific systems, instead of trying to make general rules.