Percolation-based precursors of transitions in spatially extended systems

Victor Rodríguez-Méndez1, Víctor M. Eguíluz1, Emilio Hernández-García1 and José J. Ramasco1

1Instituto de Física Interdisciplinar y Sistemas Complejos IFISC (CSIC-UIB), 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

(January 2016)

Abrupt transitions are ubiquitous in the dynamics of complex systems. Finding early indicators of their arrival, precursors, is fundamental in many areas of science such as ecology, electrical engineering, physiology or climate. However, obtaining warnings of an approaching transition well in advance remains an elusive task. Here we show that a functional network, constructed from spatial correlations of the system's time series, experiences a percolation transition way before the actual system reaches a bifurcation point due to the collective phenomena leading to the global change. Concepts from percolation theory are then used to introduce early warning precursors that anticipate the system's tipping point. We illustrate the generality and versatility of our percolation-based framework with model systems experiencing different types of bifurcations and with Sea Surface Temperature time series associated to El Nino phenomenon.