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Carbon Cycle. The carbon cycle is the circulation and transformation of carbon back and forth between living things and the environment. What Is Carbon?. Importance of Carbon. Building block of life Fixed amount CO 2 is only of the atmosphere (0.04%) Energy balance of the planet

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Carbon Cycle

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Carbon cycle

Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle is the circulation and transformation of carbon back and forth between living things and the environment.

What is carbon

What Is Carbon?

Importance of carbon

Importance of Carbon

  • Building block of life

  • Fixed amount

  • CO2 is only of the atmosphere (0.04%)

  • Energy balance of the planet

  • Protective blanket

Organic carbon

Organic Carbon

  • Hydrocarbons: CH4

  • Carbohydrate: CH2O

Inorganic carbon

Inorganic carbon

  • Carbon Dioxide: CO2

  • Calcium Carbonate: CaCO3

Mandale Limestone Quarry



Carbon exists in the nonliving environment as:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)

  • Carbonic acid ( HCO3-)

  • Carbonate rocks (limestone and corals = CaCO3)

  • Deposits of Fossil fuels

  • Dead organic matter

Carbon reservoirs

Carbon reservoirs

  • The atmosphere (carbon dioxide)

  • The biosphere (include fresh water systems and non-living organic material, such as soil carbon)

  • The oceans ( including dissolved inorganic carbon and living and non-living marine biota)

  • The lithosphere (sediments, Earth core including fossil fuels)

Carbon reservoirs1

Carbon reservoirs

Carbon in oceans

Carbon in Oceans

  • Additional carbon is stored in the ocean.

  • Many animals pull carbon from water to use in shells, etc.

  • Animals die and carbon substances are deposited at the bottom of the ocean.

  • Oceans contain earth’s largest store of carbon.

Carbon cycle1

Carbon Cycle

  • The same carbon atoms are used repeatedly on earth. They cycle between the earth and the atmosphere.

Plants use carbon dioxide

Plants Use Carbon Dioxide

  • Plants pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make food –— photosynthesis.

  • The carbon becomes part of the plant (stored food).



  • CO2 + H2O + sunlightCH2O + O2

Carbon is taken from the atmosphere in several ways

Carbon is taken from the atmosphere in several ways

  • Photosynthesis.

  • The oceans when the seawater becomes cooler, more CO2 dissolve and become carbonic acid.

  • In the upper ocean areas organisms convert reduced carbon to tissues, or carbonates.

Animals eat plants

Animals Eat Plants

  • When organisms eat plants, they take in the carbon and some of it becomes part of their own bodies.

Plants and animal die

Plants and Animal Die

  • When plants and animals die, most of their bodies are decomposed and carbon atoms are returned to the atmosphere.

  • Some are not decomposed fully and end up in deposits underground (oil, coal, etc.).

Carbon slowly returns to atmosphere

Carbon Slowly Returns to Atmosphere

  • Carbon in rocks and underground deposits is released very slowly into the atmosphere.

  • This process takes many years.

Carbon is released into the atmosphere in several ways

Carbon is released into the atmosphere in several ways

  • Respiration by plants and animals.

  • Decay of animal and plant matter.

  • Combustion of organic material

  • Production of cement.

  • The ocean releases CO2 into the atmosphere.

  • Volcanic eruptions and metamorphism



  • CH2O + O2CO2 + H2O + energy

Combustion or oxidization of hydrocarbon

Combustion or Oxidization of hydrocarbon

CH4 + 2 O2 CO2 + 2 H2O + energy

Carbon cycle diagram

Carbon in Atmosphere

Plants use carbon to make food

Decomposers break down dead things, releasing carbon to atmosphere and


Plants and animals die

Fossil fuels are burned; carbon is returned to atmosphere

Animals eat plants and take in carbon

Bodies not decomposed — after many years, become part of oil or coal deposits

Carbon slowly released from these substances returns to atmosphere

Carbon Cycle Diagram

The carbon cycle

The Carbon Cycle

Human impact

Human Impact

  • Fossil fuels release carbon stores very slowly

  • Burning anything releases more carbon into atmosphere — especially fossil fuels

Fossil fuels

Fossil Fuels

  • Petroleum

  • Natural Gas

  • Coal

Fossil fuel

Fossil Fuel

86% of global primary energy consumption is fossil fuels.

Human impacts on the carbon cycle

Human Impacts on the Carbon Cycle

Burning fossil fuels have serious impact on the carbon cycle.

Keeling curve

Keeling Curve

Green house effect global warming

Green House Effect-Global Warming

  • Increased carbon dioxide in atmosphere increases global warming



What we need to do

What We Need to Do

  • Burn less, especially fossil fuels

  • Promote plant life, especially trees

  • Fewer plants mean less CO2 removed from atmosphere

Safe green energy alternatives

Safe/Green Energy alternatives

Thanks for your attention

Thanks for your attention!

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