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Climate feedback

The climate system is influenced by a large number of chemical, physical and biological processes. These processes interact and influence one another. A 'climate feedback' is an interaction mechanism between processes in the climate system where the result of one process (A) triggers changes in a second process (B) that influences the initial one (A).

In detail

The climate system is characterised by strong feedback loops between processes that affect the state of the atmosphere, ocean, and land. A positive feedback intensifies the original process, and a negative feedback reduces it. 

A simple example is the ice-albedo positive feedback loop whereby melting snow exposes more dark ground (of lower albedo), which in turn absorbs heat and causes more snow to melt.

Find out more

  • The modelling used to produce UKCP09 includes more feedbacks than previous UK climate scenarios. A brief overview of some feedbacks that are included is given in  of the UKCP09 Briefing Report.
  • More details about the treatment of feedbacks in UKCP09 are given in in the UKCP09 Climate Change Projections report.  provides a list of the feedbacks included, and not included, in the UKCP09 probabilistic projections.
  • IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group 1 report  The Physical Science Basis, Chapter 8