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Climate feedbacks in the Earth system and prospects for their evaluation

Heinze, C., Eyring, V., Friedlingstein, P., Jones, C., Balkanski, Y., Collins, W., Fichefet, T., Gao, S., Hall, A., Ivanova, D., Knorr, W., Knutti, R., Lӧw, A., Ponater, M., Schultz, M. G., Schulz, M., Siebesma, P., Teixeira, J., Tselioudis, G. and Vancoppenolle, M. (2019) Climate feedbacks in the Earth system and prospects for their evaluation. Earth System Dynamics Discussions, 10. pp. 379-452. ISSN 2190-4987

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/esd-2018-84

Abstract/Summary

Earth system models (ESMs) are key tools for providing climate projections under different scenarios of human-induced forcing. ESMs include a large number of additional processes and feedbacks such as biogeochemical cycles that traditional physical climate models do not consider. Yet, some processes such as cloud dynamics and ecosystem functional response still have fairly high uncertainties. In this article, we present an overview of climate feedbacks for Earth system components currently included in state-of-the-art ESMs and discuss the challenges to evaluate and quantify them. Uncertainties in feedback quantification arise from the interdependencies of biogeochemical matter fluxes and physical properties, the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of processes, and the lack of long-term continuous observational data to constrain them. We present an outlook for promising approaches that can help quantifying and constraining the large number of feedbacks in ESMs in the future. The target group for this article includes generalists with a background in natural sciences and an interest in climate change as well as experts working in interdisciplinary climate research (researchers, lecturers, and students). This study updates and significantly expands upon the last comprehensive overview of climate feedbacks in ESMs, which was produced 15 years ago (NRC, 2003).

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:83632
Publisher:European Geosciences Union

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