Complexity Theory: from butterfly wings to fairy rings

Progress in Human Geography / Progress in Physical Geography Resources

Please note the first three articles per chapter have been provided open access, all other links require journal subscription access which may be available through your university.

Bekker, M.F. (2008) ‘Linear forest patterns in subalpine environments’, Progress in Physical Geography 32 (6): 635-‒53. doi: 10.1177/0309133308101384

Curtis, S. Riva, M. (2010a) ‘Health geographies I: complexity theory and human health’, Progress in Human Geography 34 (2): 215‒23. doi: 10.1177/0309132509336026.

Curtis, S. and Riva, M. (2010b) ‘Health geographies II: complexity and health care systems and policy’, Progress in Human Geography 34 (4): 513‒20. doi: 10.1177/0309132509336029.

Dittmer, J. (2013) ‘Geopolitical assemblages and complexity’, Progress in Human Geography doi: 10.1177/0309132513501405

Gao, J. and Xia, Z.-G. (1996) ‘Fractals in physical geography’, Progress in Physical Geography 20 (2): 178‒91.

Lau, S.S.S. and Lane, S.N. (2001) ‘Continuity and change in environmental systems: the case of shallow lake ecosystems’, Progress in Physical Geography 25 (2): 178‒202. doi: 10.1177/030913330102500202.

Phillips, J.D. (1995) ‘Self-organization and landscape evolution’, Progress in Physical Geography 19 (3): 309‒21. doi: 10.1177/030913339501900301.

Phillips, J.D. (2003) ‘Sources of nonlinearity and complexity in geomorphic systems’, Progress in Physical Geography 27 (1): 1‒23. doi: 10.1191/0309133303pp340ra.

Phillips, J.D. (2009) ‘Changes, perturbations, and responses in geomorphic systems’, Progress in Physical Geography 33 (1): 17‒30. doi: 10.1177/0309133309103889.

Article & notes for exercise(s)

Links for exercise 8-1 (Word)

Sun, J. and  Southworth, J. (2013) ‘Remote sensing-based fractal analysis and scale dependence associated with forest fragmentation in an Amazon tri-national frontier’, Remote Sensing 5: 454‒72. doi: 10.3390/rs5020454.

Notes to accompany exercise 8-3 (Word)

Other resources

Bar-Yam, R. (2011) About Complex Systems. New England Complex Systems Institute. Online at

Frame, B; Mandelbrot, B & Neger, N (online) Fractal Geometry. Yale University.

Google Earth coordinates:

Simply copy the coordinates and paste them directly into the search box in Google Earth. Note: you may need to zoom in or out to find the best view of the feature.

Fairy circles, Namib Rand Nature Reserve (as described by Tschinkel, 2013). 
Go to: 24°59'54.18" S 15°56'33.37" E

Ridge-slough topography, central Everglade, Florida, UK (as described by Heffernan et al, 2013). 
Go to: 26°07'20.30" N 80°43'27.65" W 
(Note: you will probably need to zoom out a bit to see the patterned landscape properly).

Beach cusps, Melbourne Beach, Florida, US. 
Go to: 28°03'54.90" N 80°33'15.62" W

Braided rivers:
Waimakariri River, New Zealand: 43°20'23.30" S 172°00'04.02" E 
Hulahula River, Alaska: 69°05'27.95" N 144°37'28.87" W