Metastability for discontinuous dynamical systems under Lévy noise: Case study on Amazonian Vegetation
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For the tipping elements in the Earth's climate system, the most important issue to address is how stable is the desirable state against random perturbations. Extreme biotic and climatic events pose severe hazards to tropical rainforests. Their local effects are extremely stochastic and difficult to measure. Moreover, the direction and intensity of the response of forest trees to such perturbations are unknown, especially given the lack of efficient dynamical vegetation models to evaluate forest tree cover changes over time. In this study, we consider randomness in the mathematical modelling of forest trees by incorporating uncertainty through a stochastic differential equation. According to field-based evidence, the interactions between fires and droughts are a more direct mechanism that may describe sudden forest degradation in the south-eastern Amazon. In modeling the Amazonian vegetation system, we include symmetric α-stable Lévy perturbations. We report results of stability analysis of the metastable fertile forest state. We conclude that even a very slight threat to the forest state stability represents Ĺevy noise with large jumps of low intensity, that can be interpreted as a fire occurring in a non-drought year. During years of severe drought, high-intensity fires significantly accelerate the transition between a forest and savanna state.