Growth in terrestrial gross primary production (GPP)—the amount of carbon dioxide that is ‘fixed’ into organic material through the photosynthesis of land plants—may provide a negative feedback for climate change. It remains uncertain, however, to what extent biogeochemical processes can suppress global GPP growth. As a consequence, modelling estimates of terrestrial carbon storage, and of feedbacks between the carbon cycle and climate, remain poorly constrained.

The evolution of Earth’s climate on geological timescales is largely driven by variations in the magnitude of total solar irradiance (TSI) and changes in the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere. Here we show that the slow ∼50 Wm−2 increase in TSI over the last ∼420 million years (an increase of ∼9 Wm−2 of radiative forcing) was almost completely negated by a long-term decline in atmospheric CO2. This was likely due to the silicate weathering-negative feedback and the expansion of land plants that together ensured Earth’s long-term habitability.

The East China Plains (ECP) region experienced the worst haze pollution on record for January in 2013. We show that the unprecedented haze event is due to the extremely poor ventilation conditions, which had not been seen in the preceding three decades. Statistical analysis suggests that the extremely poor ventilation conditions are linked to Arctic sea ice loss in the preceding autumn and extensive boreal snowfall in the earlier winter. We identify the regional circulation mode that leads to extremely poor ventilation over the ECP region.

Climate models project a strong increase in Arctic precipitation over the coming century, which has been attributed primarily to enhanced surface evaporation associated with sea-ice retreat. Since the Arctic is still quite cold, especially in winter, it is often (implicitly) assumed that the additional precipitation will fall mostly as snow. However, little is known about future changes in the distributions of rainfall and snowfall in the Arctic.

Arctic warming over the Barents–Kara Seas and its impacts on the mid-latitude circulations have been widely discussed. However, the specific mechanism that brings the warming still remains unclear. In this study, a possible cause of the regional Arctic warming over the Barents–Kara Seas during early winter (October–December) is suggested. We found that warmer sea surface temperature anomalies over the western North Atlantic Ocean (WNAO) modulate the transient eddies overlying the oceanic frontal region.