The Carbon Cycle - A Biogeochemical Cycle

The carbon is an integral aspect of every life form. Carbon cycle along with nitrogen cycle and oxygen cycle plays a vital role in the existence of life on earth. In the carbon cycle, COis interchanged among the biosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere, of the earth. This cycle portrays the movement of carbon which is found in both elemental as well as a combined state on earth. Diamond and graphite are the elemental forms of carbon and in combined state, it is found as carbonates in minerals and as CO2  gas in the atmosphere.

Carbon Cycle    

The carbon cycle on the land

The major source of carbon in the atmosphere comes from carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through respiration and combustion process. The process of photosynthesis involves the absorption of CO2 by plants to produce carbohydrates and the equation is as follows.

CO2 + H2O + energy \(\rightarrow\) CH2O +O2

Carbon compounds are passed along the food chain from the producers to consumers. The majority of the carbon exists in the body in the form of carbon dioxide through respiration. The role of decomposers is to eat the dead organism and return the carbon from their body back into the atmosphere and the equation goes like these:

CH2O +O2 \(\rightarrow\) CO2 + H2O

The Carbon Cycle in the sea

The Carbon Cycle in the sea

Marine animals convert carbon which is present in their diet to produce calcium carbonate.They use the carbonates to make their shells. As time passes the dead organisms get collected in the sea to form limestone and the formed limestone rocks formed gets exposed to air. Due to this exposure, they get weathered and hence the carbon is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

The importance of Carbon Cycle 

                  The importance of Carbon Cycle                                  

Even though carbon dioxide is found in small traces in the atmosphere, it plays a vital role in balancing the energy and traps the long wave radiations from the sun. Therefore it acts like a blanket over the planet. If carbon cycle is disturbed it will result in serious consequences such as climatic changes and global warming. A descriptive diagram of the carbon cycle is illustrated above which shows the flow of carbon into the atmosphere and the different mediums corresponding to it.

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Practise This Question

Fossils fuels and metallic minerals are renewable resources.