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The dynamics in space are drawing new boundaries for the ecosystem's "points of no return"

The dynamics in space are drawing new boundaries for the ecosystem’s “points of no return”

New hope

We must do everything we can to stop climate change. However, mathematics shows us that the concept of “points of no return” is too simplistic.

[24 Dicembre 2021]


The ongoing climatic and ecological crisis is pushing many ecosystems towards a “point of no return”, an irreversible state in which, for example, an area can become hopelessly desertified. A justified ultimatum, which could nevertheless hide more complex aspects and greater hope for the future of the planet.

An international group of scientists, including Mara Bodina of Cnr’s Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences (Isac) in Turin, came to this surprising conclusion in the study. Avoid inversion in complex systems through spatial pattern formation, published in Science.

Led by mathematicians and ecologists from the Universities of Utrecht and Leiden in the Netherlands, the study shows – in full agreement with the latest IPCC report – that “we must do everything we can to stop climate change. However, the mathematics shows us that the concept of ‘points’ No return “Too simplified: Ecosystems and the Earth could be more resilient than previously thought”.

Come sum up From Cnr, the research analyzed “points of no return” considering interactions and dynamics in an expanded spatial context. The formation of regular structures in space, such as those shown in the figure, is often considered a sign that the system is approaching a “point of no return”. Instead, new analyzes of mathematical models and satellite observations have made it possible to ensure that space structures make ecosystems more resilient, and remain more stable than previously thought even to climate change.

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“This is true for desert ecosystems, but the mathematics suggests that it could be true for systems of many types, if they are large enough to form space structures – says Max Ritkirk of Utrecht University – which systems are really ready to overcome ‘points of no return'” , then? We have to ask ourselves the question again, taking into account also these dynamics in space.”