Climate feedbacks are processes within the climate system that have the potential to either mitigate or exacerbate climate change. The major climate feedbacks are the following:
Water vapor feedback, in which warming causes the atmosphere to hold more water vapor, which traps even more heat.
Snow and sea ice albedo feedbacks, in which the melting of snow or sea ice uncovers surfaces that absorb more solar radiation than snow or ice would have, leading to enhanced local warming.
Cloud feedback, in which changes in cloud cover affect the amount of incoming solar radiation that penetrates to the land surface, and the amount of outgoing terrestrial radiation that is reflected back out to space. One of the critical questions in climate science is whether changes in cloud cover create a positive (exacerbating warming) or a negative (mitigating warming) feedback.
Our group works to reduce the uncertainty in global climate model projections of snow albedo, sea ice albedo, and cloud feedbacks (see Emergent Constraints for more information).