Jürgen Kurths is Head of the Research Department 4 “Complexity Science” at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) as well as Head of the working group “Nonlinear Dynamics” at Humboldt University Berlin. He is an expert in the fields of theoretical physics, complex systems science as well as applications to the Earth system, infrastructure (e.g. power grids), the human brain, and other systems which are characterized by a high degree of complexity and nonlinearity.
The Earth system is a very complex and dynamical one basing on various feedbacks. This makes predictions and risk analysis even of very strong (sometime extreme) events as floods, landslides, heatwaves, and earthquakes etc. a challenging task. After introducing physical models for weather forecast already in 1922 by L.F. Richardson, a fundamental open problem has been the understanding of basic physical mechanisms and exploring anthropogenic influences on climate. In 2021 Hasselmann and Manabe got the Physics Nobel Price for their pioneering works on this. I will shortly review their main seminal contributions.
Next, I will introduce a recently developed approach via complex networks mainly to analyze strong climate events. This leads to an inverse problem: Is there a backbone-like structure underlying the climate system? To treat this problem, we have proposed a method to reconstruct and analyze a complex network from spatio-temporal data.
This approach enables us to uncover relations to global and regional circulation patterns in oceans and atmosphere, which leads to construct substantially better predictions, in particular for the onset of the Indian Summer Monsoon and extreme rainfall in South America and tropical cyclones but also to understand phase transition in the past climate.
N. Boers, B. Bookhagen, H.M.J. Barbosa, N. Marwan, J. Kurths, J.A. Marengo, Nature Comm. 5, 5199 (2014)
V. Stolbova, E. Surovyatkina, B. Bookhagen, and J. Kurths, Geophys. Res. Lett. (2016)
D. Eroglu, F. McRobie, I. Ozken, T. Stemler, K. Wyrwoll, S. Breitenbach, N. Marwan, J. Kurths, Nature Comm. 7, 12929 (2016)
N. Boers, B. Goswami, A. Rheinwalt, B. Bookhagen, B. Hoskins, J. Kurths, Nature 566, 373 (2019)
J. Meng, J. Fan, J. Ludescher, A. Agarwal, X. Chen, A. Bunde, J. Kurths, H. Schellnhuber, PNAS 117, 177 (2020)
Z. Lu, N. Yuan, Q. Yang, Z. Ma, Z., J. Kurths, Geophysical Research Letters 48, e2020GL091674 (2021).
S. Gupta, N. Boers, F. Pappenberger, J. Kurths, Climate Dynamics