Terrestrial carbon-cycle feedback to climate warming

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401 Scopus citations


The coupled carbon-climate models reported in the literature all demonstrate a positive feedback between terrestrial carbon cycles and climate warming. A primary mechanism underlying the modeled positive feedback is the kinetic sensitivity of photosynthesis and respiration to temperature. Field experiments, however, suggest much richer mechanisms driving ecosystem responses to climate warming, including extended growing seasons, enhanced nutrient availability, shifted species composition, and altered ecosystem-water dynamics. The diverse mechanisms likely define more possibilities of carbon-climate feedbacks than projected by the kinetics-based models. Nonetheless, experimental results are so variable that we have not generated the necessary insights on ecosystem responses to effectively improve global models. To constrain model projections of carbon-climate feedbacks, we need more empirical data from whole-ecosystem warming experiments across a wide range of biomes, particularly in tropic regions, and closer interactions between models and experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-712
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Global change
  • Net ecosystem production
  • Photosynthesis
  • Respiration
  • Soil carbon pools
  • Temperature sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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