Local ecosystem feedbacks and critical transitions in the climate

Rietkerk, M.; Brovkin, V.; van Bodegom, P.M.; Claussen, M.; Dekker, S.C.; Dijkstra, H.A.; Goryachkin, S.V.; Kabat, P.; van Nes, E.H.; Neutel, Anje-Margriet; Nicholson, S.E.; Nobre, C.; Petoukhov, V.; Provenzale, A.; Scheffer, M.; Seneviratne, S.I.. 2009 Local ecosystem feedbacks and critical transitions in the climate. Biogeosciences Discussions, 6. 10121-10136. 10.5194/bgd-6-10121-2009

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Global and regional climate models, such as those used in IPCC assessments, are the best tools available for climate predictions. Such models typically account for large-scale land-atmosphere feedbacks. However, these models omit local vegetation-environment feedbacks that are crucial for critical transitions in ecosystems. Here, we reveal the hypothesis that, if the balance of feedbacks is positive at all scales, local vegetation-environment feedbacks may trigger a cascade of amplifying effects, propagating from local to large scale, possibly leading to critical transitions in the large-scale climate. We call for linking local ecosystem feedbacks with large-scale land-atmosphere feedbacks in global and regional climate models in order to yield climate predictions that we are more confident about.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.5194/bgd-6-10121-2009
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Global Science in the Antarctic Context (2005-2009) > Natural Complexity Programme
ISSN: 1810-6277
NORA Subject Terms: Meteorology and Climatology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 21 Dec 2010 14:49

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