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Carbon Cycle – Introduction, Types and Importance

Aug 24, 2022
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Introduction: 

Energy flow in ecosystem 

Carbon cycle 

The food chain and food web facilitate the movement of energy. Plants collect sunlight with the aid of chloroplasts during the process of energy flow in the ecosystem, and a portion of it is turned into chemical energy in the process of photosynthesis. When herbivores eat (primary consumers) the plants as food, this energy is stored in various organic products in the plants and passed on to the primary consumers in the food chain. The chemical energy contained in plant products is then converted into kinetic energy, and energy is degraded by heat conversion.  

The flow of energy in the ecosystem is one of the most important variables in the survival of such a large number of creatures. Solar energy is the principal source of energy for practically all species on Earth. It’s amusing to learn that we only receive around half of the sun’s effective radiation on Earth. When we say effective radiation, we mean radiation that plants can employ to perform photosynthesis. 

Carbon Cycle 

The carbon cycle is nature’s way of recycling carbon atoms, which travel from the atmosphere to life on Earth and back again. The vast majority of carbon is stored in rocks and sediments, with the remainder found in the ocean, atmosphere, and living organisms. Carbon circulates through these reservoirs or sinks. The ocean works as a vast carbon sink, absorbing carbon. Carbon is created by marine creatures that live and die, ranging from marsh plants to fish, seaweed to birds. Dead species may occasionally be turned into fossil fuels, which are subsequently consumed, producing CO2, and the cycle continues.  

 Carbon cycle 

Carbon is an essential component of all life on Earth. Carbon intake and output are components of all plant and animal life, whether they take in carbon to help build food or release carbon as part of respiration. Carbon is always shifting from one spot to another. It is stored in reservoirs and moves between them as a result of a variety of processes, including photosynthesis, fossil fuel burning, and the simple discharge of air from the lungs. The carbon cycle refers to the flow of carbon from reservoir to reservoir. 

Carbon cycle 

During photosynthesis, plants may catch some of the carbon in the atmosphere and use it to generate food. This carbon can subsequently be consumed and stored by the animals that consume the plants. When animals die, their remnants disintegrate, locking the stored carbon in layers that eventually convert into rock or minerals. 

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Some of this sediment may create fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, which emit carbon into the atmosphere when burnt. The carbon cycle is vital to life on Earth’s survival. Nature tends to keep carbon levels balanced, which implies that the amount of carbon naturally released from reservoirs balances the amount naturally absorbed by reservoirs. Maintaining this carbon balance guarantees that the earth stays habitable for life. 

Carbon cycle 

Carbon cycle steps 

The following are the important steps in the carbon cycle process: 

  • Plants take carbon from the atmosphere in order to perform photosynthesis.  
  • Animals ingest these plants, and carbon is bio accumulated in their bodies.  
  • Carbon is released back into the atmosphere when these animals and plants decompose.  
  • Some of the carbon that is not re-emitted into the atmosphere gets converted into fossil fuels.  
  • These fossil fuels are subsequently utilized for man-made activities, releasing even more carbon into the atmosphere.  

Types of carbon cycle 

In general, the carbon cycle may be separated into two categories based on how long it takes to occur: short term and long term. 

  • Short-term – This carbon cycling entails the yearly changes that occur in the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems, and marine ecosystems. This form of cycling is so termed because the transport of carbon between reservoirs occurs in a very short period of time (minutes, hours, days, months, or years). 
  • Long Term – This is the slowest type of carbon cycling since it takes thousands to millions of years to occur. Excess carbons from short-term cycling are retained in the “long-term” reservoir until they are extracted over a lengthy period of time. 
Carbon cycle 

Carbon cycle on land 

Carbon dioxide is the most common type of carbon in the atmosphere. Carbon enters the atmosphere through natural processes such as respiration as well as industrial ones such as the combustion of fossil fuels. Photosynthesis is the process through which plants absorb CO2 to generate carbohydrates.  

The equation is as follows: CO2 + H2O + energy → (CH2O)n +O2  

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Carbon molecules are transferred from producers to consumers via the food chain. The bulk of carbon in the body resides in the form of carbon dioxide as a result of respiration. Decomposers devour dead organisms and recycle the carbon in their bodies back into the atmosphere. 

The equation for this process is: (CH2O)n +O2 → CO2 + H2

Importance of carbon cycle 

Even though carbon dioxide is found in minute amounts in the atmosphere, it plays an important function in energy balance and traps long-wave radiation from the sun. As a result, it functions as a blanket across the earth. If the carbon cycle is disrupted, major effects such as climate shifts and global warming would occur. Carbon is needed for all life on Earth to exist. Proteins, lipids, and DNA are all examples of macromolecules. 

Carbon cycle 

Carbon is the building block of all known life on Earth. As a result, the carbon cycle, along with the nitrogen and oxygen cycles, is essential to the existence of life on Earth. Carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, is one type of carbon. Increased carbon dioxide levels insulate the Earth, allowing temperatures to increase. Understanding how carbon dioxide is absorbed and emitted aids in our understanding of the climate and the prediction of global warming.  

Carbon cycle 

Frequently asked questions 

1. What is a Carbon cycle? 

Ans: The carbon cycle is nature’s way of recycling carbon atoms, which travel from the atmosphere to life on Earth and back again. 

2. What is the importance of Carbon cycle? 

Ans: If the carbon cycle is disrupted, major effects such as climate shifts and global warming would occur. Carbon is needed for all life on Earth to exist. Proteins, lipids, and DNA are all examples of macromolecules. Carbon is the building block of all known life on Earth. As a result, the carbon cycle, along with the nitrogen and oxygen cycles, is essential to the existence of life on Earth. 

3. Mention the 4 steps of Carbon cycle? 

Ans: 

  • Plants take carbon from the atmosphere in order to perform photosynthesis.   
  • Animals ingest these plants, and carbon is bio accumulated in their bodies.   
  • Carbon is released back into the atmosphere when these animals and plants decompose.   
  • Some of the carbon that is not re-emitted into the atmosphere gets converted into fossil fuels.   
  • These fossil fuels are subsequently utilized for man-made activities, releasing even more carbon into the atmosphere.   

4. What is long term carbon cycle? 

Ans: This is the slowest type of carbon cycling since it takes thousands to millions of years to occur. Excess carbons from short-term cycling are retained in the “long-term” reservoir until they are extracted over a lengthy period.   

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