Climate Feedback Loops Project

Read our climate feedbacks paper. The supplement is also available online.

There are many amplifying global warming feedback loops that significantly increase the warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. However, not all of these feedbacks are fully accounted for in current climate models. Thus, potential mitigation pathways based on these models could be overly optimistic and fail to sufficiently limit temperatures. A targeted expansion of research is needed to incorporate biologically-based feedbacks into Earth system models to guide climate policy objectives. Concurrently, policymakers must implement plans to minimize risks by greatly accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Feedbacks Map

To learn more about climate feedbacks

To learn more about climate feedbacks, please see our recent paper, Many risky feedback loops amplify the need for climate action, written by William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Timothy M. Lenton, Jillian W. Gregg, Susan M. Natali, Philip B. Duffy, Johan Rockström, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, or one of these articles about the paper: Many risky feedback loops amplify the need for climate action: Nearly 30 dangerous feedback loops could permanently shift the Earth’s climate, scientists say (CNN), Scientists Examine Dangerous Global Warming 'Accelerators' (Inside Climate News). Feel free to also check out the materials on our website below, many of which are adapted from the paper's supplement.


To learn more about climate tipping points

To learn more about climate tipping points, please see this tipping points website and the article Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against.

You are welcome to distribute our feedbacks infographic, which outlines several feedback loops:

Feedbacks Infographic

Interactive Examples

One of the most important climate feedback loops involves sea ice and albedo (reflectance). To get a sense of how this loop operates, simply click the up arrow on "Temperature" and watch what happens to the three circles: 

Feedback loops involving temperature can also indirectly affect each other. Clicking the up arrow on "Temperature" in this example shows how the wildfire and permafrost feedbacks can operate in parallel:

Here's an even more complex example, which includes the sea ice and soil carbon loops:

Interactive Feedbacks Map

Feedback description:   Click a picture to read about the associated feedback loop


A. Sea ice albedo B. Permafrost thawing C. Peatlands smoldering I. Snow cover albedo