Global Warming Feedback Loops
The thing that often gets lost in all the global warming discussion is just how complicated the system really is, and how, because of that, small things can have a great effect. As example, take a look at the CO2 feedback loop we're nearing. It could be the lighter fluid on the fire.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ancient roots and bones locked in long-frozen soil in Siberia are starting to thaw, and have the potential to unleash billions of tones of carbon and accelerate global warming, scientists said on Thursday.
This vast carbon reservoir, contained in permafrost soil in northeastern Siberia, contains about 75 times more carbon than the amount released into the atmosphere each year by the burning of fossil fuels, the researchers said in a statement.
Siberia isn't the only place on Earth with massive lodes of permafrost -- parts of Alaska, Canada and northern Europe have them too. The Siberian area is possibly the world's largest, covering nearly 400,000 square miles, with an average depth of 82 feet, and probably holds about 500 billion metric tons of carbon.
These feedback mechanisms have the potential to massively amplify any man made effects we are creating. By raising temperature a couple of degrees, a self-sustaining process is put in motion which could easily double that. Another potential feedback loop is in the relationship of melting Artic sea ice and open water which absorbs more sunlight, melting more ice.
The scary thing to me is that all previous mainstream climate modelling, including their impact assessments, hasn't taken these mechanisms into account.
We're at the tipping point, and we don't really know what's on the other side.