early warnings in space in experimental and field data

Two interesting papers on empirically demonstrating the detection of critical transitions using the generic early warnings have been recently published in high profile journals. Dai et al showed experimentally that a disturbance in connected yeast populations affects longer spatial scales close to a critical transition. The authors introduced this effect as the analogue of ‘recovery time‘ in space: namely ‘recovery length’ to show that it increases prior to a critical transition. Streeter and Dugmore used transects to substitute time for space and measured early warnings for land surface transitions. They found signatures of variance and autocorrelation in tephra deposits along transects that cut across 6 types of landscape thresholds. This is the first study that early warning have been used for critical transitions across space in field observations for such types of transitions. Also in this study the authors have used our recently developed earlywarnings package for R. These two studies are brilliant examples of applying early warning research in creative ways performing experiments in the lab, or looking for experiments conducted by nature.