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We study stability of the nonnegative solutions of a discontinuous elliptic eigenvalue problem relevant in several applications as for instance in climate modeling. After giving the explicit expresion of the S-shaped bifurcation diagram $\left( \lambda ,{{\left\| {{\mu }_{\lambda }} \right\|}_{\infty }} \right)$ we show the instability of the decreasing part of the bifurcation curve and the stability of the increasing part. This extends to the case of non-smooth nonlinear terms the well known 1971 result by M.G. Crandall and P.H. Rabinowitz concerning differentiable nonlinear terms. We point out that, in general, there is a lacking of uniquenees of solutions for the associated parabolic problem. Nevertheless, for nondegenerate solutions (crossing the discontinuity value of u in a transversal way) the comparison principle and the uniqueness of solutions hold. The instability is obtained trough a linearization process leading to an eigenvalue problem in which a Dirac delta distribution appears as a coefficient of the differential operator. The stability proof uses a suitable change of variables, the continuuity of the bifurcation branch and the comparison principle for nondegenerate solutions of the parabolic problem.

*retention phenomena*on the free boundaries associated to some elliptic and parabolic problems of reaction-diffusion type. This is the case, for instance, of the

*waiting time phenomenon*for solutions of suitable parabolic equations. We find sufficient conditions in order to have a discrete version of the waiting time property (the so called

*nondiffusion of the support*) for solutions of the associated family of elliptic equations and prove how to pass to the limit in order to get this property for the solutions of the parabolic equation.

We consider a simplified version of the Budyko diffusive energy balance climate model. We obtain the exact number of monotone stationary solutions of the associated discontinuous nonlinear elliptic with absorption. We show that the bifurcation curve, in terms of the solar constant parameter, is S-shaped. We prove the instability of the decreasing part and the stability of the increasing part of the bifurcation curve. In terms of the Budyko climate problem the above results lead to an important qualitative information which is far to be evident and which seems to be new in the mathematical literature on climate models. We prove that if the solar constant is represented by $ \lambda \in (\lambda _{1}, \lambda _{2}), $ for suitable $ \lambda _{1}<\lambda _{2}, $ then there are exactly two stationary solutions giving rise to a free boundary (i.e. generating two symmetric polar ice caps: North and South ones) and a third solution corresponding to a totally ice covered Earth. Moreover, we prove that the solution with smaller polar ice caps is stable and the one with bigger ice caps is unstable.

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