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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2018-84
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2018-84
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ESD Reviews 05 Dec 2018

ESD Reviews | 05 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Climate feedbacks in the Earth system and prospects for their evaluation

Christoph Heinze1,2, Veronika Eyring3,4, Pierre Friedlingstein5, Colin Jones6, Yves Balkanski7, Williams Collins8, Thierry Fichefet9, Shuang Gao1,a, Alex Hall10, Detelina Ivanova11,b, Wolfgang Knorr12, Reto Knutti13, Alexander Löw14,†, Michael Ponater3, Martin G. Schultz15, Michael Schulz16, Pier Siebesma17,18, Joao Teixeira19, George Tselioudis20, and Martin Vancoppenolle21 Christoph Heinze et al.
  • 1Geophysical Institute and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, University of Bergen, Postboks 7803, 5020 Bergen, Norway
  • 2Uni Research Climate, Bergen, Norway
  • 3Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 4University of Bremen, Institute of Envi ronmental Physics (IUP), Bremen, Germany
  • 5College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom
  • 6National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 7Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, CEA/CNRS/UVSQ, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 8Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 9Université catholique de Louvain, Earth and Life Institute, Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • 10Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  • 11Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), Bergen, Norway
  • 12Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund Un iversity, Lund, Sweden
  • 13Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 14Department for Geography, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany
  • 15Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
  • 16Norwegian Meteorological Ins titute, Oslo, Norway
  • 17Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, Netherlands
  • 18Department of Geoscience & Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
  • 19Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
  • 20NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York City, USA
  • 21Sorbonne Universités (UPMC Paris 6), LOCEAN-IPSL, CNRS/IRD/MNHN, Paris, France
  • acurrent address: Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Norway
  • bcurrent address: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, USA
  • deceased 2 July 2017

Abstract. 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).

Christoph Heinze et al.
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Short summary
We present an overview of climate feedbacks for Earth system components currently included in state-of-the-art Earth system models (ESMs) and discuss the challenges to evaluate and quantify them. 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.
We present an overview of climate feedbacks for Earth system components currently included in...
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