11 Nov 2022
 | 11 Nov 2022

Rate-induced tipping in natural and human systems

Paul Ritchie, Hassan Alkhayuon, Peter Cox, and Sebastian Wieczorek

Abstract. Over the last two decades, tipping points have become a hot topic due to the devastating consequences that they may have on natural and human systems. Tipping points are typically associated with a system bifurcation when external forcing crosses a critical level, causing an abrupt transition to an alternative, and often less desirable, state. The main message of this review is that the rate of change in forcing is arguably of even greater relevance in the human-dominated anthropocene, but is rarely examined as a potential sole mechanism for tipping points. Thus, we address the related phenomenon of rate-induced tipping: an instability that occurs when external forcing varies across some critical rate, usually without crossing any bifurcations. First, we explain when to expect rate-induced tipping. Then, we use three illustrating examples of differing complexity to highlight universal and generic properties of rate-induced tipping in a range of natural and human systems.

Paul Ritchie et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1176', Richard Rosen, 12 Nov 2022
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1176', Niklas Boers, 26 Nov 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1176', Anonymous Referee #2, 27 Dec 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1176', Anonymous Referee #3, 28 Dec 2022

Paul Ritchie et al.

Paul Ritchie et al.


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Short summary
Complex systems can undergo abrupt changes or ‘tipping points’ when external forcing crosses a critical level and are of increasing concern because of their severe impacts. However, tipping points can also occur when the external forcing changes too quickly, without crossing any critical levels, which is very relevant for Earth’s systems and contemporary climate. We give an intuitive explanation of such rate-induced tipping and provide illustrative examples from natural and human systems.