New Feedback Understanding Could Affect Climate Predictions
Feedbacks between living things on the land masses of the Earth—the terrestrial biosphere—and the atmosphere is known to impact climate. In fact, vegetation cover and the chemistry of the atmosphere have changed over time scales on the order of decades during past episodes of climate change. Many of these interactions and climate feedbacks are related to the carbon cycle—the partitioning of carbon between land, water, and the atmosphere, which is now a key component of climate models. But new research published in Nature Geoscience indicates that other biogeochemical feedbacks, such as the nitrogen cycle, may be important to consider. Early indications suggest that incorporating these additional feedbacks into models could result in predictions of even greater global warming, although much uncertainty remains to be resolved. Modelers will be busy for some time to come.