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This Interdisciplinary Research Cluster (IRC) aims to develop a conceptual theoretical framework for the understanding and qualitative (and potentially quantitative) description of tipping points and regime shift in a coupled global climate-biota system taking into account the temporal heterogeneity of the processes involved, in particular the effect of timing of the potential extinction triggers. There is some evidence in the fossil records that the global ecosystems’ response to such a trigger (e.g. a bolide collision) can be diverse, leading to a considerable biodiversity loss in one case but having a relatively small effect in another. However, any consistent theory for an understanding of the mentioned variability is entirely lacking. This IRC aims to bridge this gap.
This IRC continues past efforts (at MBI, NIMBioS, and ICERM) in shaping an interdisciplinary community to develop an emerging agenda on the implementation of modern mathematical methods of modeling and data analysis to better understand the mechanisms of mass extinction events in Earth history.