Statistical Mechanics and Information-Theoretic Perspectives on Complexity in the Earth System

Georgios Balasis*, Reik V. Donner, Stelios M. Potirakis, Jakob Runge, Constantinos Papadimitriou, Ioannis A. Daglis, Konstantinos Eftaxias, Juergen Kurths

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


This review provides a summary of methods originated in (non-equilibrium) statistical mechanics and information theory, which have recently found successful applications to quantitatively studying complexity in various components of the complex system Earth. Specifically, we discuss two classes of methods: (i) entropies of different kinds (e. g., on the one hand classical Shannon and Renyi entropies, as well as non-extensive Tsallis entropy based on symbolic dynamics techniques and, on the other hand, approximate entropy, sample entropy and fuzzy entropy); and (ii) measures of statistical interdependence and causality (e. g., mutual information and generalizations thereof, transfer entropy, momentary information transfer). We review a number of applications and case studies utilizing the above-mentioned methodological approaches for studying contemporary problems in some exemplary fields of the Earth sciences, highlighting the potentials of different techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4844-4888
Number of pages45
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2013


  • entropy measures
  • symbolic dynamics
  • non-extensive statistical mechanics
  • causality
  • Earth sciences
  • self-organized criticality
  • time-series analysis
  • holocene climate variability
  • El-Nino/Southern-Oscillation
  • Nino-Southern-Oscillation
  • magnetic-field topology
  • low-dimensional chaos
  • electromagnetic emissions
  • recurrence plots
  • permutation entropy


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