Anticipating critical transitions

M. Scheffer, S.R. Carpenter, T.M. Lenton, J. Bascompte, W.A. Brock, V. Dakos, J. van de Koppel, I.A. van de Leemput, A. Levin, E.H. van Nes, M. Pascual, J. Vandermeer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

959 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-348
Issue number6105
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • critical slowing-down
  • nonequilibrium phase-transitions
  • coordinated biological motion
  • early-warning signals
  • regime shifts
  • tipping-point
  • catastrophic shifts
  • ecosystems
  • resilience
  • systems

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