Carbon-climate feedbacks: A review of model and observation based estimates

P. Friedlingstein*, I. C. Prentice

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


A growing number of studies investigated the feedback between the carbon cycle and the climate system. Modeling studies evolved from analysis based on simple land or ocean carbon cycle models to comprehensive Earth System Models accounting for state-of-the-art climate models coupled to land and ocean biogeochemical models. So far, there is a general agreement that climate change negatively affects the oceanic uptake of carbon. On land there was a similar agreement until recently where new studies showed that warming could reduce nitrogen limitation to growth, reducing the amplitude, or even changing the sign of, the land feedback. In parallel, alternative approaches used the observational record of atmospheric CO2 and temperature, on time scales ranging from interannual to millennial, to estimate the climate-carbon cycle feedback. These studies confirmed that at the global scale, warming leads to a release of CO2 from the land/ocean system to the atmosphere. Whether these observations can strongly constrain the magnitude of the feedback under future climate change is still under investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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