Review Articles

  • Review Article |

    Stressors such as large-scale damming, hydrological change, pollution, the introduction of non-native species and sediment mining are challenging the integrity and future of large rivers, according to a synthesis of the literature on the 32 biggest rivers.

    • Jim Best
  • Review Article |

    Understanding the thermodynamics of air-mass transformations that occur in the atmosphere at the boundary between the Arctic and mid-latitudes is key to improving weather and climate predictions, according to a literature synthesis

    • Felix Pithan
    • , Gunilla Svensson
    • , Rodrigo Caballero
    • , Dmitry Chechin
    • , Timothy W. Cronin
    • , Annica M. L. Ekman
    • , Roel Neggers
    • , Matthew D. Shupe
    • , Amy Solomon
    • , Michael Tjernström
    •  & Manfred Wendisch
  • Review Article |

    Species richness in mountain environments is linked to mountain-building and climatic processes, an integration of geological, climatic, and biological datasets reveals.

    • Alexandre Antonelli
    • , W. Daniel Kissling
    • , Suzette G. A. Flantua
    • , Mauricio A. Bermúdez
    • , Andreas Mulch
    • , Alexandra N. Muellner-Riehl
    • , Holger Kreft
    • , H. Peter Linder
    • , Catherine Badgley
    • , Jon Fjeldså
    • , Susanne A. Fritz
    • , Carsten Rahbek
    • , Frédéric Herman
    • , Henry Hooghiemstra
    •  & Carina Hoorn
  • Review Article |

    The abundance of microorganisms in the continental subsurface may have been overestimated, according to a review compilation of data from subsurface localities around the globe.

    • C. Magnabosco
    • , L.-H. Lin
    • , H. Dong
    • , M. Bomberg
    • , W. Ghiorse
    • , H. Stan-Lotter
    • , K. Pedersen
    • , T. L. Kieft
    • , E. van Heerden
    •  & T. C. Onstott
  • Review Article |

    Robust evidence for a previously proposed sea-level fall and rise during the Last Interglacial is lacking, according to a synthesis. This calls estimates of high rates of sea-level rise at the end of the Last Interglacial into question.

    • Natasha L. M. Barlow
    • , Erin L. McClymont
    • , Pippa L. Whitehouse
    • , Chris R. Stokes
    • , Stewart S. R. Jamieson
    • , Sarah A. Woodroffe
    • , Michael J. Bentley
    • , S. Louise Callard
    • , Colm Ó Cofaigh
    • , David J. A. Evans
    • , Jennifer R. Horrocks
    • , Jerry M. Lloyd
    • , Antony J. Long
    • , Martin Margold
    • , David H. Roberts
    •  & Maria L. Sanchez-Montes
  • Review Article |

    A review of Earth system changes associated with past warmer climates provides constraints on the environmental changes that could occur under warming of 2 °C or more over pre-industrial temperatures.

    • Hubertus Fischer
    • , Katrin J. Meissner
    • , Alan C. Mix
    • , Nerilie J. Abram
    • , Jacqueline Austermann
    • , Victor Brovkin
    • , Emilie Capron
    • , Daniele Colombaroli
    • , Anne-Laure Daniau
    • , Kelsey A. Dyez
    • , Thomas Felis
    • , Sarah A. Finkelstein
    • , Samuel L. Jaccard
    • , Erin L. McClymont
    • , Alessio Rovere
    • , Johannes Sutter
    • , Eric W. Wolff
    • , Stéphane Affolter
    • , Pepijn Bakker
    • , Juan Antonio Ballesteros-Cánovas
    • , Carlo Barbante
    • , Thibaut Caley
    • , Anders E. Carlson
    • , Olga Churakova (Sidorova)
    • , Giuseppe Cortese
    • , Brian F. Cumming
    • , Basil A. S. Davis
    • , Anne de Vernal
    • , Julien Emile-Geay
    • , Sherilyn C. Fritz
    • , Paul Gierz
    • , Julia Gottschalk
    • , Max D. Holloway
    • , Fortunat Joos
    • , Michal Kucera
    • , Marie-France Loutre
    • , Daniel J. Lunt
    • , Katarzyna Marcisz
    • , Jennifer R. Marlon
    • , Philippe Martinez
    • , Valerie Masson-Delmotte
    • , Christoph Nehrbass-Ahles
    • , Bette L. Otto-Bliesner
    • , Christoph C. Raible
    • , Bjørg Risebrobakken
    • , María F. Sánchez Goñi
    • , Jennifer Saleem Arrigo
    • , Michael Sarnthein
    • , Jesper Sjolte
    • , Thomas F. Stocker
    • , Patricio A. Velasquez Alvárez
    • , Willy Tinner
    • , Paul J. Valdes
    • , Hendrik Vogel
    • , Heinz Wanner
    • , Qing Yan
    • , Zicheng Yu
    • , Martin Ziegler
    •  & Liping Zhou
  • Review Article |

    Ocean oxygen loss in a warming world is strongly affected by biogeochemical processes that are not fully accounted for in ocean models, suggests a literature synthesis.

    • Andreas Oschlies
    • , Peter Brandt
    • , Lothar Stramma
    •  & Sunke Schmidtko
  • Review Article |

    The creation of an energetic framework for monsoon systems is needed to fully understand past and future variations in tropical rainfall, according to a literature review.

    • Michela Biasutti
    • , Aiko Voigt
    • , William R. Boos
    • , Pascale Braconnot
    • , Julia C. Hargreaves
    • , Sandy P. Harrison
    • , Sarah M. Kang
    • , Brian E. Mapes
    • , Jacob Scheff
    • , Courtney Schumacher
    • , Adam H. Sobel
    •  & Shang-Ping Xie
  • Review Article |

    Indicators of environmental and social footprints of international trade must inform assessments of progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, suggests a synthesis of studies on the geospatial separation of consumption and production.

    • Thomas Wiedmann
    •  & Manfred Lenzen
  • Review Article |

    The Cassini mission revealed the complex workings of Titan’s methane-based hydrologic cycle over a range of timescales, providing a potential window into the future of Earth and its water cycle.

    • Alexander G. Hayes
    • , Ralph D. Lorenz
    •  & Jonathan I. Lunine
  • Review Article |

    Size, morphology, silica content and life cycle of diatoms affect their contribution to the export of carbon to the deep ocean, suggests a literature review.

    • Paul Tréguer
    • , Chris Bowler
    • , Brivaela Moriceau
    • , Stephanie Dutkiewicz
    • , Marion Gehlen
    • , Olivier Aumont
    • , Lucie Bittner
    • , Richard Dugdale
    • , Zoe Finkel
    • , Daniele Iudicone
    • , Oliver Jahn
    • , Lionel Guidi
    • , Marine Lasbleiz
    • , Karine Leblanc
    • , Marina Levy
    •  & Philippe Pondaven
  • Review Article |

    Climate sensitivity, the long-term warming due to doubled atmospheric CO2 levels, is estimated in the range of 1.5 °C to 4.5 °C. A synthesis of work reveals that whether the value falls at the high or low end, future emissions will have to be strongly limited.

    • Reto Knutti
    • , Maria A. A. Rugenstein
    •  & Gabriele C. Hegerl
  • Review Article |

    River deltas are shaped by interactions between fluvial and tidal processes. Tides act to stabilize delta morphology, but sediment depletion due to human activities disrupts the balance and leads to erosion and scour.

    • A. J. F. Hoitink
    • , Z. B. Wang
    • , B. Vermeulen
    • , Y. Huismans
    •  & K. Kästner
  • Review Article |

    Extratropical storms contribute to precipitation, wind and temperature extremes. A synthesis of the influences of a changing climate on storm tracks reveals competing effects on meridional temperature gradients, which make projections difficult.

    • T. A. Shaw
    • , M. Baldwin
    • , E. A. Barnes
    • , R. Caballero
    • , C. I. Garfinkel
    • , Y.-T. Hwang
    • , C. Li
    • , P. A. O'Gorman
    • , G. Rivière
    • , I. R. Simpson
    •  & A. Voigt
  • Review Article |

    Lakes are sources of the greenhouse gas methane. A synthesis of measurements of methane emissions reveals that lakes and ponds above 50 °N emit 16.5 Tg methane annually, and emissions may increase by 20 to 50% with longer ice-free seasons.

    • Martin Wik
    • , Ruth K. Varner
    • , Katey Walter Anthony
    • , Sally MacIntyre
    •  & David Bastviken
  • Review Article |

    The solar wind, cometary ices, and inner Solar System bodies exhibit distinct nitrogen isotopic compositions. A synthesis of these analyses suggests that these distinct reservoirs may be the result of early fractionation processes.

    • Evelyn Füri
    •  & Bernard Marty
  • Review Article |

    The atmospheric layer that lies above Earth's weather systems can exert a strong downward influence. A review of this influence on storm tracks and surface weather suggests that the dynamical links between the layers hold across timescales.

    • Joseph Kidston
    • , Adam A. Scaife
    • , Steven C. Hardiman
    • , Daniel M. Mitchell
    • , Neal Butchart
    • , Mark P. Baldwin
    •  & Lesley J. Gray
  • Review Article |

    In order to limit climate warming, CO2 emissions must remain below fixed quota. An evaluation of past emissions suggests that at 2014 emissions rates, the total quota will probably be exhausted within the next 30 years.

    • P. Friedlingstein
    • , R. M. Andrew
    • , J. Rogelj
    • , G. P. Peters
    • , J. G. Canadell
    • , R. Knutti
    • , G. Luderer
    • , M. R. Raupach
    • , M. Schaeffer
    • , D. P. van Vuuren
    •  & C. Le Quéré
  • Review Article |

    The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average. A literature synthesis discusses mechanisms how the associated decline in sea ice and snow cover could potentially alter mid-latitude weather, but uncertainties are profound.

    • Judah Cohen
    • , James A. Screen
    • , Jason C. Furtado
    • , Mathew Barlow
    • , David Whittleston
    • , Dim Coumou
    • , Jennifer Francis
    • , Klaus Dethloff
    • , Dara Entekhabi
    • , James Overland
    •  & Justin Jones
  • Review Article |

    The discovery of water in lunar samples in 2008 challenged the notion that the Moon's interior had lost all its volatiles. Since then, analyses of the water concentrations and isotopic compositions in lunar samples taken together suggest that the Moon is heterogeneously wet, which may lend clues to its origin.

    • Katharine L. Robinson
    •  & G. Jeffrey Taylor
  • Review Article |

    The oxygenation of the Earth's deep oceans is often thought to have triggered the evolution of simple animals. A review article proposes that instead, the evolution of animal life set off a series of biogeochemical feedbacks that promoted the oxygenation of the deep sea.

    • Timothy M. Lenton
    • , Richard A. Boyle
    • , Simon W. Poulton
    • , Graham A. Shields-Zhou
    •  & Nicholas J. Butterfield
  • Review Article |

    Feedbacks between the terrestrial carbon cycle and climate change could affect many ecosystem functions and services. A synthesis of global air temperature data reveals non-uniform rates of climate warming on diurnal and seasonal timescales, and heterogeneous impacts on ecosystem carbon cycling.

    • Jianyang Xia
    • , Jiquan Chen
    • , Shilong Piao
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Yiqi Luo
    •  & Shiqiang Wan
  • Review Article |

    The Indian Ocean Dipole is a key mode of interannual climate variability influencing much of Asia and Australia. A Review suggests that in response to greenhouse warming, mean conditions of the Indian Ocean will shift toward a positive dipole state, but with no overall shift in the frequency of positive and negative events as defined relative to the mean climate state.

    • Wenju Cai
    • , Xiao-Tong Zheng
    • , Evan Weller
    • , Mat Collins
    • , Tim Cowan
    • , Matthieu Lengaigne
    • , Weidong Yu
    •  & Toshio Yamagata
  • Review Article |

    Porphyry ore deposits supply much of the copper, molybdenum, gold and silver used by humans. A review of the main processes that trigger porphyry ore formation suggests that sulphide saturation of the magmas that supply the metals could be the overriding mechanism that helps control the temporal and spatial distribution of the ore deposits.

    • Jamie J. Wilkinson
  • Review Article |

    Methane is an important greenhouse gas, responsible for about 20% of the warming induced by long-lived greenhouse gases since pre-industrial times. A compilation of observations and results from chemical transport, ecosystem and climate chemistry models suggests that a rise in wetland and fossil fuel emissions probably accounts for the renewed increase in global methane levels after 2006.

    • Stefanie Kirschke
    • , Philippe Bousquet
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Marielle Saunois
    • , Josep G. Canadell
    • , Edward J. Dlugokencky
    • , Peter Bergamaschi
    • , Daniel Bergmann
    • , Donald R. Blake
    • , Lori Bruhwiler
    • , Philip Cameron-Smith
    • , Simona Castaldi
    • , Frédéric Chevallier
    • , Liang Feng
    • , Annemarie Fraser
    • , Martin Heimann
    • , Elke L. Hodson
    • , Sander Houweling
    • , Béatrice Josse
    • , Paul J. Fraser
    • , Paul B. Krummel
    • , Jean-François Lamarque
    • , Ray L. Langenfelds
    • , Corinne Le Quéré
    • , Vaishali Naik
    • , Simon O'Doherty
    • , Paul I. Palmer
    • , Isabelle Pison
    • , David Plummer
    • , Benjamin Poulter
    • , Ronald G. Prinn
    • , Matt Rigby
    • , Bruno Ringeval
    • , Monia Santini
    • , Martina Schmidt
    • , Drew T. Shindell
    • , Isobel J. Simpson
    • , Renato Spahni
    • , L. Paul Steele
    • , Sarah A. Strode
    • , Kengo Sudo
    • , Sophie Szopa
    • , Guido R. van der Werf
    • , Apostolos Voulgarakis
    • , Michiel van Weele
    • , Ray F. Weiss
    • , Jason E. Williams
    •  & Guang Zeng
  • Review Article |

    The leakage of cold, methane-rich fluids from subsurface reservoirs to the sea floor sustains some of the richest ecosystems on the sea bed. These cold-seep communities consume around two orders of magnitude more oxygen than the surrounding sea floor as a result of the microbial consumption of seep methane.

    • Antje Boetius
    •  & Frank Wenzhöfer
  • Review Article |

    The flux of carbon out of the ocean surface is not sufficient to meet the energy demands of microbes in the dark ocean. A review of the literature suggests that non-sinking particles and microbes that convert inorganic carbon into organic matter could help to meet this deep-ocean energy demand.

    • Gerhard J. Herndl
    •  & Thomas Reinthaler
  • Review Article |

    The Arctic is warming faster than any other region in the world. The resultant large-scale shift in sea ice cover could increase oceanic emissions of dimethylsulphide, a climate-relevant trace gas generated by ice algae and phytoplankton.

    • M. Levasseur
  • Review Article |

    Coastal upwelling regimes associated with eastern boundary currents are the most biologically productive ecosystems in the ocean. A suite of human-induced changes could perturb primary production and nutrient cycling in these highly dynamic systems.

    • Douglas G. Capone
    •  & David A. Hutchins
  • Review Article |

    A substantial amount of atmospheric carbon taken up on land is transported laterally from upland terrestrial ecosystems to the ocean. A synthesis of the available literature suggests that human activities have significantly increased soil carbon inputs to inland waters, but have only slightly affected carbon delivery to the open ocean.

    • Pierre Regnier
    • , Pierre Friedlingstein
    • , Philippe Ciais
    • , Fred T. Mackenzie
    • , Nicolas Gruber
    • , Ivan A. Janssens
    • , Goulven G. Laruelle
    • , Ronny Lauerwald
    • , Sebastiaan Luyssaert
    • , Andreas J. Andersson
    • , Sandra Arndt
    • , Carol Arnosti
    • , Alberto V. Borges
    • , Andrew W. Dale
    • , Angela Gallego-Sala
    • , Yves Goddéris
    • , Nicolas Goossens
    • , Jens Hartmann
    • , Christoph Heinze
    • , Tatiana Ilyina
    • , Fortunat Joos
    • , Douglas E. LaRowe
    • , Jens Leifeld
    • , Filip J. R. Meysman
    • , Guy Munhoven
    • , Peter A. Raymond
    • , Renato Spahni
    • , Parvadha Suntharalingam
    •  & Martin Thullner
  • Review Article |

    Photosynthetic microbes, collectively termed phytoplankton, are responsible for the vast majority of primary production in marine waters. A synthesis of the latest research suggests that two broad nutrient limitation regimes — characterized by nitrogen and iron limitation, respectively — dictate phytoplankton abundance and activity in the global ocean.

    • C. M. Moore
    • , M. M. Mills
    • , K. R. Arrigo
    • , I. Berman-Frank
    • , L. Bopp
    • , P. W. Boyd
    • , E. D. Galbraith
    • , R. J. Geider
    • , C. Guieu
    • , S. L. Jaccard
    • , T. D. Jickells
    • , J. La Roche
    • , T. M. Lenton
    • , N. M. Mahowald
    • , E. Marañón
    • , I. Marinov
    • , J. K. Moore
    • , T. Nakatsuka
    • , A. Oschlies
    • , M. A. Saito
    • , T. F. Thingstad
    • , A. Tsuda
    •  & O. Ulloa
  • Review Article |

    Tropical climate and the composition of the global upper atmosphere are affected by the tropical tropopause layer. A synthesis report concludes that transport and mixing in the tropopause region are closely linked with the Asian monsoon and other tropical circulation systems, with possible implications for the impacts of climate change on this important layer.

    • William J. Randel
    •  & Eric J. Jensen
  • Review Article |

    Magma erupted at subduction-zone volcanoes contains mantle rocks and a mixture of fluids and sediments derived from the subducted slab. A synthesis of work over past years provides an integrated physico-chemical framework for subduction zones with mixing at the slab–mantle interface and transport towards the surface volcanoes by buoyant diapirs.

    • Horst R. Marschall
    •  & John C. Schumacher
  • Review Article |

    During periods of glaciation, the Northern Hemisphere was swathed by large ice sheets. A review of ice-sheet retreat during the last two deglaciations shows that land-based ice sheets responded rapidly to rising summer insolation, whereas marine-based ice sheets underwent a delayed, but more abrupt, response.

    • Anders E. Carlson
    •  & Kelsey Winsor
  • Review Article |

    The geomagnetic field varies on a wide range of timescales. A review of emerging research suggests that field variations on the order of tens of millions of years may be linked to changes in heat flow across the core–mantle boundary.

    • A. J. Biggin
    • , B. Steinberger
    • , J. Aubert
    • , N. Suttie
    • , R. Holme
    • , T. H. Torsvik
    • , D. G. van der Meer
    •  & D. J. J. van Hinsbergen
  • Review Article |

    Over 90% of species were lost during the end-Permian mass extinction. A review of the fossil record shows that the rate of recovery was highly variable between different groups of organisms as a result of complex biotic interactions and repeated environmental perturbations.

    • Zhong-Qiang Chen
    •  & Michael J. Benton
  • Review Article |

    Most of Earth's crust is created at mid-ocean ridges that are submerged deep beneath the oceans. Analyses of geodetic and seismic data from rare sections of ridges that are exposed on land in Iceland and the Afar region in east Africa demonstrate that rifting episodes at these sites operate with remarkably similar mechanisms.

    • Tim J. Wright
    • , Freysteinn Sigmundsson
    • , Carolina Pagli
    • , Manahloh Belachew
    • , Ian J. Hamling
    • , Bryndís Brandsdóttir
    • , Derek Keir
    • , Rikke Pedersen
    • , Atalay Ayele
    • , Cindy Ebinger
    • , Páll Einarsson
    • , Elias Lewi
    •  & Eric Calais
  • Review Article |

    Throughout the Palaeozoic era, about 540 to 250 million years ago, plants colonized land and rapidly diversified. An analysis of the palaeontologic record shows that this diversification irrevocably altered the shape and form of fluvial systems.

    • Martin R. Gibling
    •  & Neil S. Davies
  • Review Article |

    Mixed-phase clouds, comprising both ice and supercooled liquid water, have a large impact on radiative fluxes in the Arctic. Interactions between numerous local feedbacks sustain these complex cloud systems, leading to the development of a resilient mixed-phase cloud system.

    • Hugh Morrison
    • , Gijs de Boer
    • , Graham Feingold
    • , Jerry Harrington
    • , Matthew D. Shupe
    •  & Kara Sulia
  • Review Article |

    Volcanoes formed above the Hawaiian mantle plume exhibit a striking contrast in the geochemical characteristics of the lavas erupted at the northern Kea compared with the southern Loa volcanoes. Isotopic data show that these trends have persisted for more than 5 million years and may mirror compositional heterogeneities in the deep mantle.

    • Dominique Weis
    • , Michael O. Garcia
    • , J. Michael Rhodes
    • , Mark Jellinek
    •  & James S. Scoates
  • Review Article |

    Anthropogenic emissions of ozone-depleting gases cause marked changes in surface climate, in addition to rising levels of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. A Review of the influence of the Antarctic ozone hole on Southern Hemisphere surface climate finds that its signature closely resembles the negative phase of the southern annular mode.

    • David W. J. Thompson
    • , Susan Solomon
    • , Paul J. Kushner
    • , Matthew H. England
    • , Kevin M. Grise
    •  & David J. Karoly
  • Review Article |

    Ice sheets, and in particular the West Antarctic ice sheet, are expected to shrink in size as the world warms, which in turn will raise sea level. A Review of the literature suggests that much of this ice sheet will survive beyond this century, but confident estimates of the likelihood of future collapse require further work.

    • Ian Joughin
    •  & Richard B. Alley
  • Review Article |

    Carbonate rocks of Middle Ediacaran age record the largest excursion in carbon isotopic compositions in Earth history. A review of the data offers two intriguing explanations: an extraordinary perturbation of the carbon cycle, or post-depositional alteration that is global, rather than local.

    • John P. Grotzinger
    • , David A. Fike
    •  & Woodward W. Fischer
  • Review Article |

    Earth's topography is attributed to the interactions of the tectonic plates, but flow within the mantle also contributes to surface uplift and subsidence. An overview of recent research indicates that mantle-induced dynamic topography can be reconstructed by integrating the geological record with models of mantle flow.

    • Jean Braun