# Critical Transitions

Detection and attribution studies have played a major role in shaping contemporary climate science and have provided key motivations supporting global climate policy negotiations. Their goal is to associate unambiguously observed patterns of climate change with anthropogenic and natural forcings acting as drivers through the so-called optimal fingerprinting method. We show here how response theory for nonequilibrium systems provides the physical and dynamical foundations behind optimal fingerprinting for the climate change detection and attribution problem, including the notion of causality used for attribution purposes. We clearly frame assumptions, strengths, and potential pitfalls of the method. Additionally, we clarify the mathematical framework behind the degenerate fingerprinting method that leads to early warning indicators for tipping points. Finally, we extend the optimal fingerprinting method to the regime of nonlinear response. Our findings indicate that optimal fingerprinting for detection and attribution can be applied to virtually any stochastic system undergoing time-dependent forcing.

*LvL*representation and an associated 2D score that allow for unambiguously quantifying departure from well-defined baseline randomness in cloud spacing and sizes. This approach demonstrates sensitivity and robustness in classifying cloud field organization types. Its delicate sensitivity unravels the temporal evolution of a single cloud field, providing novel insights into the underlying governing processes.

Conceptual delay models have played a key role in the analysis and understanding of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability. Based on such delay models, we propose in this work a novel scenario for the fabric of ENSO variability resulting from the subtle interplay between stochastic disturbances and nonlinear invariant sets emerging from bifurcations of the unperturbed dynamics.

To identify these invariant sets we adopt an approach combining Galerkin-Koornwinder (GK) approximations of delay differential equations and center-unstable manifold reduction techniques. In that respect, GK approximation formulas are reviewed and synthesized, as well as analytic approximation formulas of center-unstable manifolds. The reduced systems derived thereof enable us to conduct a thorough analysis of the bifurcations arising in a standard delay model of ENSO. We identify thereby a saddle-node bifurcation of periodic orbits co-existing with a subcritical Hopf bifurcation, and a homoclinic bifurcation for this model. We show furthermore that the computation of unstable periodic orbits (UPOs) unfolding through these bifurcations is considerably simplified from the reduced systems.

These dynamical insights enable us in turn to design a stochastic model whose solutions—as the delay parameter drifts slowly through its critical values—produce a wealth of temporal patterns resembling ENSO events and exhibiting also decadal variability. Our analysis dissects the origin of this variability and shows how it is tied to certain transition paths between invariant sets of the unperturbed dynamics (for ENSO’s interannual variability) or simply due to the presence of UPOs close to the homoclinic orbit (for decadal variability). In short, this study points out the role of solution paths evolving through tipping “points” beyond equilibria, as possible mechanisms organizing the variability of certain climate phenomena.

*modus operandi*, the backward integration time is the key parameter to select per scale/variable to parameterize in order to derive the relevant parameterizations which are doomed to be no longer exact away from instability onset due to the breakdown of slaving typically encountered, e.g., for chaotic regimes. The selection criterion is then made through data-informed minimization of a least-square parameterization defect. It is thus shown through optimization of the backward integration time per scale/variable to parameterize, that skilled OPM reduced systems can be derived for predicting with accuracy higher-order critical transitions or catastrophic tipping phenomena, while training our parameterization formulas for regimes prior to these transitions takes place.

A central challenge in physics is to describe non-equilibrium systems driven by randomness, such as a randomly growing interface, or fluids subject to random fluctuations that account e.g. for local stresses and heat fluxes in the fluid which are not related to the velocity and temperature gradients. For deterministic systems with infinitely many degrees of freedom, normal form and center manifold theory have shown a prodigious efficiency to often completely characterize how the onset of linear instability translates into the emergence of nonlinear patterns, associated with genuine physical regimes. However, in presence of random fluctuations, the underlying reduction principle to the center manifold is seriously challenged due to large excursions caused by the noise, and the approach needs to be revisited.

In this study, we present an alternative framework to cope with these difficulties exploiting the approximation theory of stochastic invariant manifolds, on one hand, and energy estimates measuring the defect of parameterization of the high-modes, on the other. To operate for fluid problems subject to stochastic stirring forces, these error estimates are derived under assumptions regarding dissipation effects brought by the high-modes in order to suitably counterbalance the loss of regularity due to the nonlinear terms. As a result, the approach enables us to analyze, from reduced equations of the stochastic fluid problem, the occurrence in large probability of a stochastic analogue to the pitchfork bifurcation, as long as the noise’s intensity and the eigenvalue’s magnitude of the mildly unstable mode scale accordingly.

In the case of SPDEs forced by a multiplicative noise in the orthogonal subspace of e.g. its mildly unstable mode, our parameterization formulas show that the noise gets transmitted to this mode via non-Markovian coefficients, and that the reduced equation is only stochastically driven by the latter. These coefficients depend explicitly on the noise path's history, and their memory content is self-consistently determined by the intensity of the random force and its interaction through the SPDE's nonlinear terms. Applications to a stochastic Rayleigh-B\'enard problem are detailed, for which conditions for a stochastic pitchfork bifurcation (in large probability) to occur, are clarified.

Nonlinear time delay systems produce inherently delay-induced periodic oscillations, which are, however, too idealistic compared to observations. We exhibit a unified stochastic framework to systematically rectify such oscillations into oscillatory patterns with enriched temporal variabilities through generic, nonlinear responses to stochastic perturbations. Two paradigms of noise-driven chaos in high dimension are identified, fundamentally different from chaos triggered by parameter-space noise. Noteworthy is a low-dimensional stretch-and-fold mechanism, leading to stochastic strange attractors exhibiting horseshoe-like structures mirroring turbulent transport of passive tracers. The other is high-dimensional , with noise acting along the critical eigendirection and transmitted to “deeper” stable modes through nonlinearity, leading to stochastic attractors exhibiting swarm-like behaviors with power-law and scale break properties. The theory is applied to cloud delay models to parameterize missing physics such as intermittent rain and Lagrangian turbulent effects. The stochastically rectified model reproduces with fidelity complex temporal variabilities of open-cell oscillations exhibited by high-end cloud simulations.

(stable or unstable) time-periodic solutions and a quasi-periodic solution.

By means of Galerkin-Koornwinder (GK) approximations, an efficient reduction approach to the Stuart-Landau (SL) normal form and center manifold is presented for a broad class of nonlinear systems of delay differential equations (DDEs) that covers the cases of discrete as well as distributed delays. The focus is on the Hopf bifurcation as the consequence of the critical equilibrium's destabilization resulting from an eigenpair crossing the imaginary axis. The nature of the resulting Hopf bifurcation (super- or subcritical) is then characterized by the inspection of a Lyapunov coefficient easy to determine based on the model's coefficients and delay parameter. We believe that our approach, which does not rely too much on functional analysis considerations but more on analytic calculations, is suitable to concrete situations arising in physics applications.

Thus, using this GK approach to the Lyapunov coefficient and SL normal form, the occurrence of Hopf bifurcations in the cloud-rain delay models of Koren and Feingold (KF) on one hand, and Koren, Tziperman and Feingold (KTF), on the other, are analyzed. Noteworthy is the existence for the KF model of large regions of the parameter space for which subcritical and supercritical Hopf bifurcations coexist. These regions are determined in particular by the intensity of the KF model's nonlinear effects. ``Islands'' of supercritical Hopf bifurcations are shown to exist within a subcritical Hopf bifurcation ``sea;'' these islands being bordered by double-Hopf bifurcations occurring when the linearized dynamics at the critical equilibrium exhibit two pairs of purely imaginary eigenvalues.

The spectrum of the generator (Kolmogorov operator) of a diffusion process, referred to as the Ruelle-Pollicott (RP) spectrum, provides a detailed characterization of correlation functions and power spectra of stochastic systems via decomposition formulas in terms of RP resonances; see Part I of this contribution (Chekroun et al. in Theory J Stat. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10955-020-02535-x, 2020). Stochastic analysis techniques relying on the theory of Markov semigroups for the study of the RP spectrum and a rigorous reduction method is presented in Part I Chekroun et al. (2020). This framework is here applied to study a stochastic Hopf bifurcation in view of characterizing the statistical properties of nonlinear oscillators perturbed by noise, depending on their stability. In light of the Hörmander theorem, it is first shown that the geometry of the unperturbed limit cycle, in particular its isochrons, i.e., the leaves of the stable manifold of the limit cycle generalizing the notion of phase, is essential to understand the effect of the noise and the phenomenon of phase diffusion. In addition, it is shown that the RP spectrum has a spectral gap, even at the bifurcation point, and that correlations decay exponentially fast. Explicit small-noise expansions of the RP eigenvalues and eigenfunctions are then obtained, away from the bifurcation point, based on the knowledge of the linearized deterministic dynamics and the characteristics of the noise. These formulas allow one to understand how the interaction of the noise with the deterministic dynamics affect the decay of correlations. Numerical results complement the study of the RP spectrum at the bifurcation point, revealing useful scaling laws. The analysis of the Markov semigroup for stochastic bifurcations is thus promising in providing a complementary approach to the more geometric random dynamical system (RDS) approach. This approach is not limited to low-dimensional systems and the reduction method presented in Chekroun et al. (2020) is applied to a stochastic model relevant to climate dynamics in the third part of this contribution (Tantet et al. in J Stat Phys. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10955-019-02444-8, 2019).

The response of a low-frequency mode of climate variability, El Niño–Southern Oscillation, to stochastic forcing is studied in a high-dimensional model of intermediate complexity, the fully-coupled Cane–Zebiak model (Zebiak and Cane 1987), from the spectral analysis of Markov operators governing the decay of correlations and resonances in the power spectrum. Noise-induced oscillations excited before a supercritical Hopf bifurcation are examined by means of complex resonances, the reduced Ruelle–Pollicott (RP) resonances, via a numerical application of the reduction approach of the first part of this contribution (Chekroun et al. 2019) to model simulations. The oscillations manifest themselves as peaks in the power spectrum which are associated with RP resonances organized along parabolas, as the bifurcation is neared. These resonances and the associated eigenvectors are furthermore well described by the small-noise expansion formulas obtained by Gaspard (2002) and made explicit in the second part of this contribution (Tantet et al. 2019). Beyond the bifurcation, the spectral gap between the imaginary axis and the real part of the leading resonances quantifies the diffusion of phase of the noise-induced oscillations and can be computed from the linearization of the model and from the diffusion matrix of the noise. In this model, the phase diffusion coefficient thus gives a measure of the predictability of oscillatory events representing ENSO. ENSO events being known to be locked to the seasonal cycle, these results should be extended to the non-autonomous case. More generally, the reduction approach theorized in Chekroun et al. (2019), complemented by our understanding of the spectral properties of reference systems such as the stochastic Hopf bifurcation, provides a promising methodology for the analysis of low-frequency variability in high-dimensional stochastic systems.

In this article it is proved that the dynamical properties of a broad class of semilinear parabolic problems are sensitive to arbitrarily small but smooth perturbations of the nonlinear term, when the spatial dimension is either equal to one or two. This topological instability is shown to result from a local deformation of the global bifurcation diagram associated with the corresponding elliptic problems. Such a deformation is shown to systematically occur via the creation of either a multiple-point or a new fold-point on this diagram when an appropriate small perturbation is applied to the nonlinear term. More precisely, it is shown that for a broad class of nonlinear elliptic problems, one can always find an arbitrary small perturbation of the nonlinear term, that generates a local S on the bifurcation diagram whereas the latter is e.g. monotone when no perturbation is applied; substituting thus a single solution by several ones. Such an increase in the local multiplicity of the solutions to the elliptic problem results then into a topological instability for the corresponding parabolic problem.

The rigorous proof of the latter instability result requires though to revisit the classical concept of topological equivalence to encompass important cases for the applications such as semi-linear parabolic problems for which the semigroup may exhibit non-global dissipative properties, allowing for the coexistence of blow-up regions and local attractors in the phase space; cases that arise e.g. in combustion theory. A revised framework of topological robustness is thus introduced in that respect within which the main topological instability result is then proved for continuous, locally Lipschitz but not necessarily C1 nonlinear terms, that prevent in particular the use of linearization techniques, and for which the family of semigroups may exhibit non-dissipative properties.

The problem of emergence of fast gravity-wave oscillations in rotating, stratified flow is reconsidered. Fast inertia-gravity oscillations have long been considered an impediment to initialization of weather forecasts, and the concept of a “slow manifold” evolution, with no fast oscillations, has been hypothesized. It is shown on a reduced Primitive Equation model introduced by Lorenz in 1980 that fast oscillations are absent over a finite interval in Rossby number but they can develop brutally once a critical Rossby number is crossed, in contradistinction with fast oscillations emerging according to an exponential smallness scenario such as reported in previous studies, including some others by Lorenz. The consequences of this dynamical transition on the closure problem based on slow variables is also discussed. In that respect, a novel variational perspective on the closure problem exploiting manifolds is introduced. This framework allows for a unification of previous concepts such as the slow manifold or other concepts of “fuzzy” manifold. It allows furthermore for a rigorous identification of an optimal limiting object for the averaging of fast oscillations, namely the optimal parameterizing manifold (PM). It is shown through detailed numerical computations and rigorous error estimates that the manifold underlying the nonlinear Balance Equations provides a very good approximation of this optimal PM even somewhat beyond the emergence of fast and energetic oscillations.

Dynamical systems methodology is a mature complementary approach to forward simulation which can be used to investigate many aspects of climate dynamics. With this paper, a review is given on the methods to analyze deterministic and stochastic climate models and show that these are not restricted to low-dimensional toy models, but that they can be applied to models formulated by stochastic partial differential equations. We sketch the numerical implementation of these methods and illustrate these by showing results for two canonical problems in climate dynamics.