The topology of non-linear global carbon dynamics

From tipping points to planetary boundaries

John Anderies, S. R. Carpenter, Will Steffen, Johan Rockström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present a minimal model of land use and carbon cycle dynamics and use it to explore the relationship between non-linear dynamics and planetary boundaries. Only the most basic interactions between land cover and terrestrial, atmospheric, and marine carbon stocks are considered in the model. Our goal is not to predict global carbon dynamics as it occurs in the actual Earth System. Rather, we construct a conceptually reasonable heuristic model of a feedback system between different carbon stocks that captures the qualitative features of the actual Earth System and use it to explore the topology of the boundaries of what can be called a 'safe operating space' for humans. The model analysis illustrates the existence of dynamic, non-linear tipping points in carbon cycle dynamics and the potential complexity of planetary boundaries. Finally, we use the model to illustrate some challenges associated with navigating planetary boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number044048
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Fingerprint

topology
Carbon Cycle
Nonlinear Dynamics
Carbon
Topology
carbon
carbon cycle
Earth (planet)
heuristics
Land use
land cover
Feedback
land use
Heuristics

Keywords

  • critical transitions
  • dynamics
  • landuse change
  • planetary boundaries
  • topology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

The topology of non-linear global carbon dynamics : From tipping points to planetary boundaries. / Anderies, John; Carpenter, S. R.; Steffen, Will; Rockström, Johan.

In: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 8, No. 4, 044048, 2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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