The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate

By David Archer | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 10
Carbon Cycle Feedbacks

The carbon cycle as presented in Chapters 8 and 9 generally has a calming influence on climate. The ocean takes up most of the fossil fuel CO2 in a few centuries, leaving some behind, in a fairly well-behaved, predictable way. Our only complaint was that the carbon cycle was so slow to clean up the mess.

The carbon cycle from the real world, as documented in ice cores and other climate records, seems to have had a different temperament. Instead of moderating the climate changes that were driven by orbital variations, the carbon cycle seems to fan the flames of climate change. It is likely that, given time, the carbon cycle will amplify the effects of global warming in the future, as well.

There are times in the past in which warming seemed to trigger atmospheric CO2 to rise. The interplay between temperature and CO2 is tricky to untangle because an increase in CO2 drives the Earth to warm, but here I claim that a natural change in temperature may also drive CO2 to change. Put the pieces together into a loop of cause and effect, and the result is a positive feedback that makes the climate tippier.

One example is the warming and rising CO2 concentration at the end of the glacial time, already presented in Chapter 5 and

-125-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 180

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?