What is the carbon cycle?
Carbon is present throughout the natural environment in a fixed amount. It takes many forms and moves through the environment via the carbon cycle. The circulation and transformation of carbon between the living things and the environment is called as the Carbon Cycle. Carbon is an essential element in the bodies of living organisms. It is also economically important to modern humans, in the form of fossil fuels. In fact, carbon constitutes the very definition of life, as its absence or presence helps define whether a molecule is considered to be organic or inorganic. Every organism on Earth needs either for energy, structure, or, as is the case of humans, for both.
Carbon Cycle Diagram
Carbon Cycle Steps
- From the atmosphere to plants: Plants take in Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere releasing oxygen for the animals through the process of photosynthesis.
- The overall reaction of photosynthesis is:
- carbon dioxide + water + solar energy → glucose + oxygen
- 6 CO2 + 6 H2O + solar energy → C6H12O6 + 6 O2
- From plants to animals: Consumption of plants by animals directly or indirectly transfers the carbon molecules as glucose through the food chains.
- From living things to the environment: When plants and animals die, they decompose into the soil. During this decomposition, the carbon compounds in their bodies rejoin the soil.
- From living things into the atmosphere: When we exhale, we give out carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Through the process of respiration, carbon is cycled through the atmosphere from living things.
- From fossil fuels into the atmosphere when fuels are burned: Our species relies on fossil fuels for a large portion of our energy needs even though the trend is gradually changing. When we burn fossil fuels, we are releasing carbon compounds like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Every year, around five and a half billion tons of carbon is released by the burning of fossil fuels. Out of the fossil fuels burned, around three billion tons of it goes into the atmosphere whereas most of the rest get mixed with the oceans or settle down on the ground.
- Carbon moves from the atmosphere to the oceans: The oceans soak up carbon through the surface and deposits from rivers and estuaries.
The carbon cycle is a crucial part of the seamless functioning of the planet. Creating an imbalance in any of the other cycles like the oxygen cycle and the nitrogen cycle can bring about adverse effects into the environment.
Carbon Cycle – Terrestrial & Aquatic
To learn more about the different cycles of the planet in detail download- Byju’s- The Learning App.
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