One of the most visible consequences of a warming world is an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

Credit: NOAA/NCEI.

Welcome to the home page of the Online Seminar Series on Critical Transitions in Complex System, a monthly seminar series that focuses on critical transitions or “tipping points” in complex physical systems. The seminar series is jointly hosted by IIT Madras, Chennai, India, and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.

Many complex systems such as turbulent thermo-fluid systems, climate systems, financial markets, power grids, infectious diseases exhibit critical transitions where the system shifts abruptly from one state to another. Such critical transitions can have undesirable or even catastrophic consequences, including failure of space missions, power blackouts, extreme weather, extinction of species in ecosystems, pandemics, and sudden financial markets crash.

Recent work has shown that there is indeed an architecture to such transitions. It may appear surprising that disparate phenomena such as the instability of a power grid, extreme climatic events, and a thermoacoustic transition could have anything in common. More often than not, the behavior of complex systems is independent of the details of the problem, with fundamentally different physical systems displaying similar dynamic behavior.

This seminar series plans to bring together experts from the applied and theoretical aspects of critical transitions. We plan to have talks spread across a broad spectrum, ranging from, but not limited to, climate science to combustion to financial markets to ecology to epidemiology to neuroscience. The seminar series is aimed at disseminating the state of the art in the prediction of critical transitions in these diverse fields of study, foster international collaborations, and promote discussion.

For more information, kindly reach out to us at

Upcoming Talks

Steven L. Brunton

Prof. Brunton will discuss how machine learning can be used to develop accurate and efficient nonlinear dynamical systems models for complex natural and engineered systems.

Louis Pecora

Dr. Pecora is a research scientist at the United States Naval Research Laboratory, where he has been since 1977. He heads a group in nonlinear dynamics of solid-state systems.

Katharina Krischer

Prof. Krischer covers self-organization in physical and physicochemical systems as well as electrocatalysis, in particular on efficient photoelectrochemical and electrocatalytic energy conversion.


R. I. Sujith

Prof. R. I. Sujith is the D. Srinivasan Chair Professor at IIT Madras. Sujith is a leading expert on the application of dynamical systems and complex systems theory to thermoacoustic instabilities and oscillatory instabilities in general. He is an Alexander von Humboldt fellow and a Hans Fischer Senior Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study at TU Munich.

Jürgen Kurths

Prof. Jürgen Kurths is Senior Advisor for “Complexity Science” at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Humboldt University, Berlin. He is a leading expert in the fields of theoretical physics and complex systems science with applications to the Earth system, power grids infrastructure, the human brain, and systems which are characterized by a high degree of interactions and nonlinearity.

Organizing Institutes

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

IIT Madras is a public technical and research university located in Chennai, India. It has been the top-ranked engineering institute in India for four consecutive years in the NIRF Rankings of 2021 put out by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

PIK Germany is one of the leading research institutions and part of a global network of scientific and academic institutions working on questions of global environmental change.