Cascading effects of critical transitions

[ by Charles Cameron — for Ali Minai and Mike Sellers, my complexity maven friends ]


Complexity at intersections and overlaps.

My intuition catches this from memories of Carmel and Big Sur, and my general snese of waves crashing on waves –and with a little searching, I find my instinct beautifully expressed in this detail from Henrique Pinto‘s gorgeous Rocks & waves @ Big Sur #4, CA:

The approach from science-side delivers this:

The authors said their paper, published in the journal Science, highlights how overstressed and overlapping natural systems are combining to throw up a growing number of unwelcome surprises.

Unwelcome surprises, unanticipated consequences, unknown unknowns, what’s the odds?

From the article page:

Cascading effects of regime shifts

The potential for regime shifts and critical transitions in ecological and Earth systems, particularly in a changing climate, has received considerable attention. However, the possibility of interactions between such shifts is poorly understood. Rocha et al. used network analysis to explore whether critical transitions in ecosystems can be coupled with each other, even when far apart (see the Perspective by Scheffer and van Nes). They report different types of potential cascading effects, including domino effects and hidden feedbacks, that can be prevalent in different systems. Such cascading effects can couple the dynamics of regime shifts in distant places, which suggests that the interactions between transitions should be borne in mind in future forecasts.

I’ve been saying this, notably here, and thinking it for quite a while longer: in particular, I’d imagine a lot of waves of climate migration will founder on the rocks of nationalism and religion..

3 comments on this post.
  1. Charles Cameron:

    for the complexity of waves crashing on rocks, as I told Ali Minai, there’s little can match Elgar’s Nimrod at about the 3 minute mark onwards here:

    — beautiful conducting, btw

  2. David Ronfeldt:

    important point (and pointer) about cascading effects, charles. many thanks.

  3. Charles Cameron:

    Thanks, David.