Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 21–50, 2016

Special issue: Social dynamics and planetary boundaries in Earth system...

Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 21–50, 2016
Research article
18 Jan 2016
Research article | 18 Jan 2016

Topology of sustainable management of dynamical systems with desirable states: from defining planetary boundaries to safe operating spaces in the Earth system

J. Heitzig et al.

Related authors

Taxonomies for structuring models for World–Earth systems analysis of the Anthropocene: subsystems, their interactions and social–ecological feedback loops
Jonathan F. Donges, Wolfgang Lucht, Sarah E. Cornell, Jobst Heitzig, Wolfram Barfuss, Steven J. Lade, and Maja Schlüter
Earth Syst. Dynam., 12, 1115–1137,,, 2021
Earth system modeling with endogenous and dynamic human societies: the copan:CORE open World–Earth modeling framework
Jonathan F. Donges, Jobst Heitzig, Wolfram Barfuss, Marc Wiedermann, Johannes A. Kassel, Tim Kittel, Jakob J. Kolb, Till Kolster, Finn Müller-Hansen, Ilona M. Otto, Kilian B. Zimmerer, and Wolfgang Lucht
Earth Syst. Dynam., 11, 395–413,,, 2020
Short summary
Towards representing human behavior and decision making in Earth system models – an overview of techniques and approaches
Finn Müller-Hansen, Maja Schlüter, Michael Mäs, Jonathan F. Donges, Jakob J. Kolb, Kirsten Thonicke, and Jobst Heitzig
Earth Syst. Dynam., 8, 977–1007,,, 2017
Short summary
A matrix clustering method to explore patterns of land-cover transitions in satellite-derived maps of the Brazilian Amazon
Finn Müller-Hansen, Manoel F. Cardoso, Eloi L. Dalla-Nora, Jonathan F. Donges, Jobst Heitzig, Jürgen Kurths, and Kirsten Thonicke
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 24, 113–123,,, 2017
Short summary
Estimation of sedimentary proxy records together with associated uncertainty
B. Goswami, J. Heitzig, K. Rehfeld, N. Marwan, A. Anoop, S. Prasad, and J. Kurths
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 1093–1111,,, 2014
Short summary

Related subject area

Management of the Earth system: sustainability science
Lotka's wheel and the long arm of history: how does the distant past determine today's global rate of energy consumption?
Timothy J. Garrett, Matheus R. Grasselli, and Stephen Keen
Earth Syst. Dynam., 13, 1021–1028,,, 2022
Short summary
Coupling human and natural systems for sustainability: experience from China's Loess Plateau
Bojie Fu, Xutong Wu, Zhuangzhuang Wang, Xilin Wu, and Shuai Wang
Earth Syst. Dynam., 13, 795–808,,, 2022
Short summary
Groundwater storage dynamics in the world's large aquifer systems from GRACE: uncertainty and role of extreme precipitation
Mohammad Shamsudduha and Richard G. Taylor
Earth Syst. Dynam., 11, 755–774,,, 2020
Short summary
Linking resilience and robustness and uncovering their trade-offs in coupled infrastructure systems
Mehran Homayounfar, Rachata Muneepeerakul, John M. Anderies, and Chitsomanus P. Muneepeerakul
Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 1159–1168,,, 2018
Short summary
Exploring the biogeophysical limits of global food production under different climate change scenarios
Philipp de Vrese, Tobias Stacke, and Stefan Hagemann
Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 393–412,,, 2018
Short summary

Cited articles

Anderies, J. M., Carpenter, S. R., Steffen, W., and Rockström, J.: The topology of non-linear global carbon dynamics: from tipping points to planetary boundaries, Environ. Res. Lett., 8, 044048,, 2013.
Aubin, J.-P.: Viability Kernels and Capture Basins of Sets Under Differential Inclusions, SIAM J. Control Optim., 40, 853–881,, 2001.
Aubin, J.-P.: Viability theory, Birkhäuser, Boston, 2009.
Aubin, J.-P. and Saint-Pierre, P.: An Introduction to Viability Theory and Management of Renewable Resources, in: Advanced Methods for Decision Making and Risk Management in Sustainability Science, chap. 2, edited by: Kropp, J. and Scheffran, J., Nova Science Publishers, New York, 43–80, 2007.
Aubin, J.-P., Bayen, A., and Saint-Pierre, P.: Viability Theory. New Directions, Springer Science & Business Media, Heidelberg, 2011.
Short summary
The debate about a safe and just operating space for humanity and the possible pathways towards and within it requires an analysis of the inherent dynamics of the Earth system and of the options for influencing its evolution. We present and illustrate with examples a conceptual framework for performing such an analysis not in a quantitative, optimizing mode, but in a qualitative way that emphasizes the main decision dilemmas that one may face in the sustainable management of the Earth system.
Final-revised paper