How well do we understand and evaluate climate change feedback processes?

Sandrine Bony, Robert Colman, Vladimir M. Kattsov, Richard P. Allan, Christopher S. Bretherton, Jean Louis Dufresne, Alex Hall, Stephane Hallegatte, Marika M. Holland, William Ingram, David A. Randall, Brian J. Soden, George Tselioudis, Mark J. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

693 Scopus citations


Processes in the climate system that can either amplify or dampen the climate response to an external perturbation are referred to as climate feedbacks. Climate sensitivity estimates depend critically on radiative feedbacks associated with water vapor, lapse rate, clouds, snow, and sea ice, and global estimates of these feedbacks differ among general circulation models. By reviewing recent observational, numerical, and theoretical studies, this paper shows that there has been progress since the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in (i) the understanding of the physical mechanisms involved in these feedbacks, (ii) the interpretation of intermodel differences in global estimates of these feedbacks, and (iii) the development of methodologies of evaluation of these feedbacks (or of some components) using observations. This suggests that continuing developments in climate feedback research will progressively help make it possible to constrain the GCMs' range of climate feedbacks and climate sensitivity through an ensemble of diagnostics based on physical understanding and observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3445-3482
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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