Domino Effects in the Earth System: Can Antarctica tip climate policy?

Collaborating Scientists: JProf. Dr. Ricarda Winkelmann (PIK), Dr. Jobst Heitzig (PIK) and Dr. Jonathan F. Donges (PIK)

Project Outline

I develop conceptual numerical models for social tipping, where minorities trigger larger populations to engage in collective action. Such processes have been suggested as one key aspect for addressing contemporary global challenges, such as anthropogenic climate change or biodiversity loss. Particularly, I refine and extend Granovetter’s widely acknowledged theoretical threshold model of collective behavior as a numerical modeling tool for understanding such tipping-processes and use network modeling techniques to show that tipping can emerge as a consequence of social interaction between individuals. I currently couple this model with dynamics of projected sea-level rise and assess under which conditions its anticipated impacts allow for committed minorities to trigger climate action in larger shares of a population. Furthermore, I investigate under which conditions typical indicators of early warning signals for approaching physical tipping points can be used to successfully predict potential social tipping as well. Ultimately, I work on validating the model against historical data, such as voter turnouts and consumption behaviors.


(in review) M. Wiedermann, E.K. Smith, J. Heitzig, J.F. Donges
A network-based microfoundation of Granovetter’s threshold model for social tipping preprint:

(in review) M. Wiedermann, R. Winkelmann, J.F. Donges, C. Eder, J. Heitzig, A. Katsanidou, E.K. Smith
Domino Effects in the Earth System – The potential role of wanted tipping points

I.M. Otto, M. Wiedermann, J.F. Donges, R. Cremades, C. Auer, W. Lucht
Human agency in the Anthropocene
Ecological Economics, 167, 106463 (2019)

J.F. Donges, J. Heitzig, W. Barfuss, J.A. Kassel, T. Kittel, J. J. Kolb, T. Kolster, F. Müller-Hansen, I. M. Otto, M. Wiedermann, K. B. Zimmerer, W. Lucht Earth system modelling with complex dynamic human societies: the copan:CORE World-Earth modeling framework Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss. (2018)