CLIMATE AND CLIMATE CHANGE | Climate Feedbacks Chapter uri icon


  • 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Feedbacks modify an initial warming of the climate system, caused, for example, by increasing carbon dioxide. We discuss here the feedbacks that are of primary importance on decadal timescales: the water vapor feedback, the lapse-rate feedback, the surface albedo feedback, and the cloud feedback. Together, they account for approximately two-thirds of the warming we expect over the twenty-first century. The strongest positive feedback is the water vapor feedback, with the surface albedo and cloud feedbacks being smaller, positive feedbacks. The lapse-rate feedback is a negative feedback that offsets some of the water vapor feedback. The cloud feedback is the most uncertain one, and it is responsible for much of the spread among climate models in predictions of future climate change.

author list (cited authors)

  • Dessler, A. E., & Zelinka, M. D.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Dessler, AE||Zelinka, MD

editor list (cited editors)

  • Pyle, J., & Zhang, F.

Book Title

  • Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences

publication date

  • January 2015