Spatial nonlinearities: Cascading effects in the earth system

By: , and 
Edited by: Josep G. CanadellDiane E. Pataki, and Louis F. Pitelka



Nonlinear behavior is prevalent in all aspects of the Earth System, including ecological responses to global change (Gallagher and Appenzeller 1999; Steffen et al. 2004). Nonlinear behavior refers to a large, discontinuous change in response to a small change in a driving variable (Rial et al. 2004). In contrast to linear systems where responses are smooth, well-behaved, continuous functions, nonlinear systems often undergo sharp or discontinuous transitions resulting from the crossing of thresholds. These nonlinear responses can result in surprising behavior that makes forecasting difficult (Kaplan and Glass 1995). Given that many system dynamics are nonlinear, it is imperative that conceptual and quantitative tools be developed to increase our understanding of the processes leading to nonlinear behavior in order to determine if forecasting can be improved under future environmental changes (Clark et al. 2001).

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Spatial nonlinearities: Cascading effects in the earth system
Chapter 14
ISBN 978-3-540-32729-5
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Terrestrial ecosystems in a changing world
First page 165
Last page 174
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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