Changes in the Arctic's climate are a result of complex interactions between the cryosphere, atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere. More feedbacks from the cryosphere to climate warming are positive and result in further warming than are negative, resulting in a reduced rate of warming or cooling. Feedbacks operate at different spatial scales; many, such as those operating through albedo and evapotranspiration, will have significant local effects that together could result in global impacts. Some processes, such as changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, are likely to have very small global effects but uncertainty is high whereas others, such as subsea methane (CH4) emissions, could have large global effects. Some cryospheric processes in the Arctic have teleconnections with other regions and major changes in the cryosphere have been largely a result of large-scale processes, particularly atmospheric and oceanic circulation. With continued climate warming it is highly likely that the cryospheric components will play an increasingly important climatic role. However, the net effect of all the feedbacks is difficult to assess because of the variability in spatial and temporal scales over which they operate. Furthermore, general circulation models (GCMs) do not include all major feedbacks while those included may not be accurately parameterized. The lack of full coupling between surface dynamics and the atmosphere is a major gap in current GCMs.
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