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What impacts are likely from second-order global heating feedback mechanisms?

What impacts are likely from additional global heating due to second-order feedback mechanisms such as icemelt, methane and water vapour, how will you communicate these impacts and how soon?
Hugh Fraser from Greater London (Age 55+)

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2 Responses

  1. I don’t think it’s known what the net effects of the feedbacks will be- although icemelt and water vapour are certainly positive feedback mechanisms.

    The main problem is, it seems that these extra feedback processes are more likely to result in extra enhanced warming than cooling. This is why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and others predict that the warming is likely to increase over the next century- the globe is currently warming at just 0.1-0.2C per decade, but some projections have the globe warming by as much as 3 to 6C in the next century, which is nearer 0.5C per decade.

  2. Thank you for this response. I am not aware of any fears about cooling, though!

    Seemingly, enough is known about climate forcing by second-order feedback mechanisms to permit a second generation of climate models which are intended to show possible additional impacts, as reported at:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/09/AR2008030901867.html
    “Carbon output must near zero to avert danger, new studies say.”

    In the light of evident impacts of secondary feedbacks, some have come to view results from first generation models (as per IPCC) as now misleading.

    I would be very interested to hear how climate modellers and scientists are responding to these impacts – eg 40% Arctic icemelt predicted for 2030 occuring over two decades sooner in 2007, methane offgassing in taiga and tundra areas extant, clathrate gasification, extant.

    Do these events not tell us that the risks of runaway change are much greater and much closer than suggested just 10 months ago by IPPC AR4?

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