Carbon Cycle Steps: Most of the time, carbon is called as the “chemical building block of life” because living organisms are made up of it.
Hence, if that is the case, identifying how carbon molecules work in an environment is an important indication of whether a certain environment can accommodate life.
It is important to note that the amount of carbon on earth itself and its atmosphere is fixed but always converted into different compounds, be it living or nonliving in nature.
In general, there is a constant amount of carbon present on the planet and in its atmosphere. However, that “constant” amount is always being transformed into other forms and being moved between both living and non-living things. How does this process actually work? What drives the carbon atoms to move? Scroll down to find out more.
Table of Contents
- What is the Carbon Cycle?
- Carbon Cycle Steps
- Two Types of Carbon Cyling
- Importance of Carbon Cycle
What is the Carbon Cycle?
- Basically, three major carbon-bearing reservoirs exist in the planet: the lithosphere (land), the hydrosphere (water), and the atmosphere (air).
- All of which are acted upon out by the biosphere (living organisms). Living organisms, in general, play an important role in maintaining the balance between the other reservoirs.
- By determining the interaction between these reservoirs and tracing the route through which carbon are transported from the source to the sink, the interconnected carbon cycles on Earth are described precisely.
Carbon Cycle Steps
All in all, biological and geological processes are important in maintaining the carbon balance in the planet. The carbon cycle is divided into the following steps:
1. Entry of Carbon into the Atmosphere
2. Carbon Dioxide Absorption By Producers
3. Passing of the Carbon Compounds in the Food Chain
4. Return of the Carbon To the Atmosphere
Two Types of Carbon Cyling
In general, the carbon cycle can be divided (depending on how long it takes to occur) into two types: short term and long term.
1. Short Term
- This type of cycling is named as such because the movement of carbon across reservoirs only takes relatively short time (minutes, hours, days, months, or years).
2. Long Term
- The excess carbons from the short term cycling are stored into the “long term” reservoir until they are removed after a long time.
Here is the beautiful video produced by the NASA supercomputer project, which shows the CO2 emission from our earth by combining several Satellite images and earth system models. You can read more about this project here.
Importance of Carbon Cycle
Like any other naturally cycles, the carbon cycle is essential for living organisms and biological systems in general. Discussed below are some of them:
1. Essential For Life
2. Important For the Maintenance of the Balance in Ecosystems
- At present, scientists and researchers alike are still searching for novel methods of using other non-carbon sources for energy resource.
3. Critical To Food Chain
- Through food chains (and food webs), the carbon present in the producers migrate to the consumers that eat them. Consumers that eat other consumers as well receive the carbon from their food as well.
4. Important For Climate Regulation
- When there is a huge amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, the level of greenhouse gases increases, and therefore trapping more heat in the Earth. Hence, the understanding of how carbon cycle occurs in the environment paves the way for the development of the understanding for world climate.
Humans, in general, have already disturbed the natural process of the carbon cycle since the start of the industrial revolution. Look around you. It is already becoming apparent how the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (and other greenhouse gases) are increasing due to domestic and other anthropogenic activities.
The disadvantages of such activities remain uncertain, but in the long run, we know for sure that it would sooner cause major drawbacks to life.
As a concerned human being on this planet, how can you contribute to mitigating the worsening of global climate change?