What are the carbon cycle, how are they form?

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The movement of carbon from one area to another is the basis for the carbon cycle. Carbon is important for all life on Earth.
1. The Carbon Cycle
Overview of the Carbon Cycle
The movement of carbon from one area to another is the basis for the carbon cycle.
Carbon is important for all life on Earth. All living things are made up of carbon.
Carbon is produced by both natural and human-made (anthropogenic) sources.
Carbon Cycle Page 1
2. Nature’s Carbon Sources
Carbon is found in the Carbon is found in the lithosphere Carbon is found in the Carbon is found in the
atmosphere mostly as carbon in the form of carbonate rocks. biosphere stored in plants and hydrosphere dissolved in ocean
dioxide. Animal and plant Carbonate rocks came from trees. Plants use carbon dioxide water and lakes.
respiration place carbon into ancient marine plankton that sunk from the atmosphere to make
the atmosphere. When you to the bottom of the ocean the building blocks of food Carbon is used by many
exhale, you are placing carbon hundreds of millions of years ago during photosynthesis. organisms to produce shells.
dioxide into the atmosphere. that were then exposed to heat Marine plants use cabon for
and pressure. photosynthesis. The organic
matter that is produced
Carbon is also found in fossil fuels, becomes food in the aquatic
such as petroleum (crude oil), coal, ecosystem.
and natural gas.
Carbon is also found in soil from
dead and decaying animals and
animal waste.
Carbon Cycle Page 2
3. Natural Carbon Releases into the Atmosphere
Carbon is released into the atmosphere from both natural and man-made causes.
Here are examples to how nature places carbon into the atmosphere.
Gases containing carbon move between Volcanic activity is a source of carbon into the atmosphere.
the ocean’s surface and the atmosphere
through a process called diffusion.
Carbon Cycle Page 3
4. How Do Humans Place Carbon in the Atmosphere?
Humans place carbon into the atmosphere in a variety of ways.
Deforestation. When we cut down trees Wood burning. When we burn wood, Combustion of fossil fuels. We extract fossils
and forests, they can no longer remove the carbon stored in the trees fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) from the
carbon dioxide from the air. This results becomes carbon dioxide and enters ground and burn them for energy at power
in additional carbon dioxide placed in the the atmosphere. plants. The burning of fossil fuels is called
atmosphere. combustion. Fossil fuel combustion releases
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Carbon Cycle Page 4
5. How Much Carbon Is in the Atmosphere?
Climate scientist Charles Keeling measured atmospheric carbon dioxide levels between 1958-2005
at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the northern slopes of Earth’s largest volcano in Hawaii. His data,
shown below, show the steady increase of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
The red regular wobbles in the data reflect the
seasonal growth of trees and plants in the
Northern hemisphere. During the spring and
summer, trees and plants absorb carbon when
they undergo photosynthesis, reducing the
amount of carbon in the atmosphere. During
the fall and winter, they decay, releasing
carbon back into the atmosphere. This famous
data display is known as the Keeling curve.
The measurements shown in this curve
represent the world’s longest continuous
record of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This
data was the first to confirm the rise of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere caused by the
burning of fossil fuels.
Carbon Cycle Page 5
6. How Much Carbon Do Humans Emit?
Nature absorbs 788 billion tonnes of carbon every year. Natural absorptions roughly balance natural
emissions. Humans upset this balance. While some of our human-produced carbon dioxide emissions
are being absorbed by the ocean and land plants, around half of our carbon dioxide emissions remain in the air.
Human produced carbon dioxide
emissions have been increasing since
the Industrial Revolution.
The arrows in the image to the left
show the amount of carbon that is
exchanged between the atmosphere
and the other Earth spheres. The
numbers are in billions of tonnes of
carbon dioxide.
Carbon Cycle Page 6