The sensitivity of the climate system to anthropogenic perturbations over the next century will be determined by a combination of feedbacks that amplify or damp the direct radiative effects of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. A number of important geophysical climate feedbacks, such as changes in water vapor, clouds, and sea ice albedo, are included in current climate models, but biogeochemical feedbacks such as changes in methane emissions, ocean CO2 uptake, and vegetation albedo are generally neglected. The relative importance of a wide range of feedbacks is assessed here by estimating the gain associated with each individual process. The gain from biogeochemical feedbacks is estimated to be 0.05–0.29 compared to 0.17–0.77 for geophysical climate feedbacks. The potentially most significant biogeochemical feedbacks are probably release of methane hydrates, changes in ocean chemistry, biology, and circulation, and changes in the albedo of the global vegetation. While each of these feedbacks is modest compared to the water vapor feedback, the biogeochemical feedbacks in combination have the potential to substantially increase the climate change associated with any given initial forcing.
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Lashof, D.A. The dynamic greenhouse: Feedback processes that may influence future concentrations of atmospheric trace gases and climatic change. Climatic Change 14, 213–242 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00134964
- Water Vapor
- Methane Emission
- Methane Hydrate
- Global Vegetation
- Vapor Feedback