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CNRS summer school ’Michael Ghil’ : Feedbacks in environmental systems


Organisers : Denis-Didier Rousseau & David Claessen
Secretary : Ionela Tranca
Place : Résidence-Club La Fayette, La Rochelle,

Supported by the Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers (INSU) du CNRS, the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS). CNRS-INSU | ENS 


The main environmental questions concern nowadays coupled complex systems, which are still considered as isolated or analyzed as such by the traditional scientific fields, i.e. climate, ecosystems, economy and society. However, these systems influence one another and the analysis of the consequences of the feedbacks in environmental systems can be applied to fields that are as diverse as mathematics, physics, chemistry, earth sciences and astronomy, ecology and social sciences. The theory of dynamical systems tells us that these systems, complex and coupled by multiple feedbacks, may lead to nonlinear phenomena such as bistability, cyclicity and chaotic behaviors. Disturbances, deterministic or random, of such environmental systems can lead to abrupt changes of the dynamics (bifurcations or tipping points) and hysteresis phenomena that we intend to investigate.


The objective of the Summer School is to stimulate an interdisciplinary research community working on the theme of interacting complex environmental systems, building on the expertise of invited specialists that teach the lectures and interact with working groups. The third edition of the Summer School will take place from 10-15 June 2013, focussing on the interactions between Ecosystems <-> Society <-> Climate

Overall programme

  1. Introduction to different domains : climate, ecology, biodiversity, dynamical systems, ocean, ...
  2. Coupling of these fields
  3. Working groups (« journal club »)
  4. Round table discussion on feedbacks in environmental systems

Teaching methods

  • Lectures, presentations of the participants, informal discussions, working groups, round table discussion
  • Daily organisation : morning session, afternoon session on two different themes. Working groups at the end of the afternoon. Evening activity (debate, film, discussion)

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