27 feedback loops, or accelerators of global warming, reinforce the urgency of responding to the climate crisis: study

WASHINGTON: Scientists have identified 27 accelerators of global warming known as amplifying feedback loops, including some that researchers say may not be fully accounted for in climate models.
Scientists said the findings added urgency to the need to respond to the climate crisis.
In climate science, amplifying feedback loops are situations where weathering caused by climate can trigger a process that causes even more warming, which intensifies the weathering.
An example would be warming in the Arctic causing sea ice to melt, which leads to further warming as seawater absorbs rather than reflects solar radiation.
The international collaboration, led by Oregon State University (USO), US researchers also provided a roadmap for policymakers to avoid the most serious consequences of global warming, they said.
The results were reported in the journal One Earth.
The study looked at 41 climate change feedbacks.
“Many of the feedback loops we looked at significantly increase warming because of their link to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Christopher Wolf, postdoctoral researcher at OSU College of Forestry and one of the leading researchers.
“To our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive list of climate feedback loops available, and not all of them are fully accounted for in climate models. .
The study took into account both biological and physical feedbacks.
Biological feedbacks included forest dieback, soil carbon loss, and forest fires, while physical feedbacks involve changes such as reduced snow cover, increased precipitation in Antarctica, and decreased arctic sea ice.
Even relatively modest warming should increase Earth’s likelihood of passing through various tipping points, the researchers said, causing big shifts in the planet’s climate system and potentially enhancing amplified feedbacks.
“Climate models may be underestimating the acceleration of global temperature change because they don’t fully account for this important and related set of amplifying feedback loops,” Wolf said.
“The accuracy of climate models is crucial because they help guide mitigation efforts by informing decision makers of the expected effects of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
“While recent climate models do a much better job of incorporating various feedback loops, further progress is needed,” Wolf said.
Emissions have risen dramatically over the past century, the researchers noted, despite decades of warnings that they should be drastically reduced.
The scientists said the interactions between feedback loops could lead to a permanent change in Earth’s current climatic state to one that threatens the survival of many humans and other life forms.
“We need a rapid transition to integrated Earth system science because climate can only be fully understood by considering the functioning and state of all Earth systems together.
“It will require large-scale collaboration, and the result would provide better insights to decision makers,” Ripple said.
The document makes two calls to action for “immediate and massive” emissions reductions:
* Minimize near-term warming given that “climate disasters” in the form of forest fires, coastal flooding, permafrost thaw, intense storms and other extreme weather events are already occurring.
* Mitigate potential major threats looming from climate tipping points that are increasingly approaching due to the prevalence of numerous amplified feedback loops. A tipping point is a threshold after which a change in a component of the climate system becomes self-sustaining.
“Transformative and socially just changes in global energy and transportation, short-lived air pollution, food production, nature conservation, and the international economy, as well as population policies grounded in education and the ‘equality, are needed to address these short-term and long-term challenges,’ William Ripplethe other principal investigator, said.
“It is too late to completely prevent the pain of climate change, but if we take meaningful action soon while prioritizing basic human needs and social justice, it may still be possible to limit the damage” , said Ripple.
In addition to the 27 amplifying climate feedbacks, scientists studied seven that are characterized as attenuating – they act to stabilize the climate system, according to the study.
One example is carbon dioxide fertilization, where increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead to increased carbon uptake by vegetation, the study found.
The effects of the remaining seven feedbacks, including increased atmospheric dust and reduced ocean stability, are not yet known, according to the study.

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