Environment Ecosystems

The future of the carbon cycle in a changing climate



Earth’s global carbon cycle includes major carbon sinks and sources. Decades of global measurements can now help us understand how these ecosystems respond to climate change and how this response will change the carbon budget in the future.

Perspectives and insights

  • In the negative carbon-climate feedback, increasing CO2 concentrations causes a stabilizing effect. In the positive feedback, higher temperatures from increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations resulting in an amplifying effect of CO2 emissions.
  • Investments should be made to expand ecosystem observations to undersampled regions (e.g., the Arctic and tropics).
  • Anthropogenic CH4 emissions are ultimately tied to how we grow food, deal with waste, and produce energy. Hence, mitigating CH4 emissions will impact economic activity.