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Journal Article

Dynamics of tipping cascades on complex networks


Krönke,  Jonathan
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Wunderling,  Nico
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Winkelmann,  Ricarda
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Staal,  Arie
External Organizations;


Stumpf,  Benedikt
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Tuinenburg,  Obbe A.
External Organizations;


Donges,  Jonathan Friedemann
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Krönke, J., Wunderling, N., Winkelmann, R., Staal, A., Stumpf, B., Tuinenburg, O. A., Donges, J. F. (2020): Dynamics of tipping cascades on complex networks. - Physical Review E, 101, 042311.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_23947
Tipping points occur in diverse systems in various disciplines such as ecology, climate science, economy, and engineering. Tipping points are critical thresholds in system parameters or state variables at which a tiny perturbation can lead to a qualitative change of the system. Many systems with tipping points can be modeled as networks of coupled multistable subsystems, e.g., coupled patches of vegetation, connected lakes, interacting climate tipping elements, and multiscale infrastructure systems. In such networks, tipping events in one subsystem are able to induce tipping cascades via domino effects. Here, we investigate the effects of network topology on the occurrence of such cascades. Numerical cascade simulations with a conceptual dynamical model for tipping points are conducted on Erdős-Rényi, Watts-Strogatz, and Barabási-Albert networks. Additionally, we generate more realistic networks using data from moisture-recycling simulations of the Amazon rainforest and compare the results to those obtained for the model networks. We furthermore use a directed configuration model and a stochastic block model which preserve certain topological properties of the Amazon network to understand which of these properties are responsible for its increased vulnerability. We find that clustering and spatial organization increase the vulnerability of networks and can lead to tipping of the whole network. These results could be useful to evaluate which systems are vulnerable or robust due to their network topology and might help us to design or manage systems accordingly.