Where did all the carbon go?
Carbon Cycle Quiz
What is the Carbon Cycle?
Just as with water and nitrogen, carbon is cycled around the Earth through physical, chemical and biological stores. Trees and vegetation are perhaps where the cycle begins as they perform photosynthesis and take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (or the water in the case of aquatic or marine plants) this is then turned into biomass and stored before being eaten by animals where it is moved into another temporary store. The vegetation could be consumed whilst it is still alive or it could be consumed by organisms called decomposers after the plant dies. At these stages, carbon dioxide is produced through the breakdown of glucose during respiration and released back into the atmosphere.
The carbon cycle also has non-biological components such as the interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere where carbon dioxide dissolves, making the oceans slightly more acidic. Carbon dioxide dissolving in the oceans is a form of dynamic equilibrium in order to balance the carbon in the atmosphere with the oceans. More carbon in the air means more carbon moving to the water and vice-versa. Another mechanism by which carbon is stored and moved around is through the interaction with slightly acidic rainwater which reacts with rocks during weathering and locks away the carbon in more stable forms. The carbon which ends up underground or as part of the lithosphere is buried for millions of years before mixing deep in the mantle of the Earth and returning to the surface again in the form of volcanic emissions.
If you found this topic interesting perhaps you would also like to read and try a quiz about the Water Cycle?
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