Study Notes

Carbon systems - feedback loops

AS, A Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

In a systems approach, change in the outputs can be redirected back at the inputs. This may either dampen down the initial change process (negative feedback loop) or amplify and intensify it (positive feedback loop).

Human impact on the carbon cycle appears, worryingly, to be leading to a positive feedback effect.

As a result, many climate scientists talk of a ‘tipping point’, whereby if atmospheric carbon dioxide is permitted to pass a certain level, then a positive feedback cycle will be instigated that means further increases of atmospheric carbon are virtually inevitable. The feared consequence will be human-induced ‘runaway global warming’.

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