Expecting the unexpected: Leading indicators for critical transitions

Friday seminar by Vasilis Dakos



There has been increasing evidence that large scale abrupt changes in ecosystems, climate, oceanic circulation patterns, social systems and financial markets are examples of regime shifts between alternative states. Recent theoretical findings suggest that, universal properties tend to rule the dynamics prior to such transitions regardless of differences in the details of each system. When quantified, these properties can lead to the development of early-warning signals, thus, enhancing our ability to assess the risk of upcoming shifts and to take precautionary actions to avoid them. In this talk I will summarize the principles and the derivation of such early-warning signals. I will also show their application to ancient abrupt climate shifts and discuss some future challenges.


Vasilis Dakos is a postdoc with Marten Scheffer and Egbert van Nes in Wageningen University in the Netherlands. His thesis treats the development of “Generic early warning signals for catastrophic shifts in natural systems”.

Published Feb. 6, 2012 3:44 PM - Last modified Mar. 25, 2014 10:17 PM