Positive Feedback in Natural Systems

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Nature abhors a positive feedback | Watts Up With That?

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    Explaining Domestication using Coupled Human-Natural Systems (CHNS)

    A system can be regarded as an organised network with inputs, outputs, processes, stores and feedback loops. The "systems approach" in ecology or environmental science is therefore concerned with a model of the whole, rather than the parts - a very different approach from physics or chemistry.

    All systems have feedback loops. These help keep the system stable. Homeostasis is the term used to describe the ability of an organism or ecosystem to regulate itself.

    Positive and Negative Feedback loops and homeostasis

    Your body is an expert at this, maintaining a constant body temperature whatever the weather conditions. Negative feedback is good for stability. There are many environmental systems with negative feedback built in. CO2 levels and rock weathering - the warmer the atmosphere the more rapidly rock weathering takes place, using up CO2 from the atmosphere, thus cooling it again.

    And so it continues as a loop.

    Human Ecology - Basic Concepts for Sustainable Development

    Explaining it in words is very cumbersome so the diagram is a much better way. Click on the animation to play. Positive Feedback amplifies or increases change; it leads to exponential deviation away from an equilibrium. An example of this is the possible effect that rising global temperature could have by adding more water vapor to the atmosphere.

    Water is a powerful greenhouse molecule trapping heat in the atmosphere.

    If there is a global temperature rise more water will evaporate trapping more heat making more water evaporate trapping more heat and on and on. Again a diagram helps explain the idea.