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Climate feedbacks - the connectivity of the positive ice/snow albedo feedback, terrestrial snow and vegetation feedbacks and the negative cloud/radiation feedback

Climate feedbacks - the connectivity of the positive ice/snow albedo feedback, terrestrial snow and vegetation feedbacks and the negative cloud/radiation feedback

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Uploaded 27 Feb 2012 by GRID-Arendal
Year: 2007 Author: Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Description:
Feedback refers to the modification of a process by changes resulting from the process itself. Positive feedbacks accelerate the process, while negative feedbacks slow it down. Part of the uncertainty around future climates relates to important feedbacks between different parts of the climate system: air temperatures, ice and snow albedo (reflection of the sun’s rays), and clouds. An important positive feedback is the ice and snow albedo feedback. Sea ice and snow have high albedo. This means that they reflect most of the solar radiation. With warmer polar temperatures, the area of sea ice and snow cover decreases, exposing new expanses of ocean and land surfaces that absorb an increased amount of solar radiation. This increase of total absorbed solar radiation contributes to continued and accelerated warming. Many IPCC climate models suggest a major loss in sea ice cover by the mid 21st century caused by albedo feedback from shrinking snow cover and increased open water areas in s ...
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