Multiscale regime shifts and planetary boundaries

T.P. Hughes, S. Carpenter, J. Rockstrom, M. Scheffer, B. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)


Life on Earth has repeatedly displayed abrupt and massive changes in the past, and there is no reason to expect that comparable planetary-scale regime shifts will not continue in the future. Different lines of evidence indicate that regime shifts occur when the climate or biosphere transgresses a tipping point. Whether human activities will trigger such a global event in the near future is uncertain, due to critical knowledge gaps. In particular, we lack understanding of how regime shifts propagate across scales, and whether local or regional tipping points can lead to global transitions. The ongoing disruption of ecosystems and climate, combined with unprecedented breakdown of isolation by human migration and trade, highlights the need to operate within safe planetary boundaries. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-395
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • safe operating space
  • climate-change
  • critical transitions
  • ocean acidification
  • marine ecosystems
  • stable states
  • time
  • resilience
  • impacts
  • system

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