what is the Carbon cycle? Carbon cycle: involves the series of processes which contribute to the circulation of carbon in nature.
i. Carbon dioxide is removed from the air mainly by photosynthesis during which plants use it to manufacture their own food.
ii. Carbon is lost in the form of carbonates of calcium and magnesium through leaching and drainage in the carbon cycle
The carbon cycle is a crucial process that describes the movement of carbon atoms through various components of the Earth\’s biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. It involves the exchange of carbon between different reservoirs, such as the atmosphere, oceans, land, and living organisms.
Here\’s a simplified overview of the carbon cycle:
Carbon Fixation: The process begins with carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the atmosphere. Through photosynthesis, green plants, algae, and some bacteria absorb CO2 and convert it into organic compounds, primarily glucose (C6H12O6). This process is known as carbon fixation.
Respiration: When plants and animals (including humans) consume organic matter as a source of energy, they undergo cellular respiration. During respiration, organic compounds are broken down to release energy and carbon dioxide is produced as a byproduct, which is released back into the atmosphere.
Decomposition: When living organisms die, their organic matter undergoes decomposition. Decomposers, such as bacteria and fungi, break down the organic material, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Decomposition can occur in various environments, including soil, water bodies, and the ocean floor.
When organic matter, such as fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), is burned for energy production or other human activities, carbon stored within these materials is rapidly released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Combustion processes significantly contribute to the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.
Exchange with the Oceans: The oceans play a crucial role in the carbon cycle. They act as a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide through a process called gas exchange.
CO2 dissolves in the surface waters and can be taken up by marine organisms, such as phytoplankton.
Additionally, carbon dioxide can react with water to form bicarbonate ions (HCO3-) and carbonate ions (CO32-), which contribute to the ocean\’s carbonate buffer system.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ATMOSPHERIC CARBON CYCLE
The atmosphere gains carbon dioxide through
i. Burning of fuel like coal and wood releases carbon for the carbon cycle
ii. The action of volcanoes which releases carbon dioxide
iii. The respiration by plants and animals also involves the carbon cycle
iv. The death, decay and putrefaction of plants and animals,
v. Diffusion of carbon dioxide form sea and other bodies of water, acting as reservoir of carbon dioxide
uses of the carbon cycle
the are various uses of the carbon cycle which can be seen in the following ways. the carbon cycle has to do with the atmospheric carbon dioxide
i. Plants use carbon dioxide obtained from the air to manufacture their food during photosynthesis
ii. It provides carbon which is the major building block of all organic matters
iii. It helps to purify the atmosphere and also to maintain an atmospheric level of carbon dioxide
iv. Organic matter which is made from carbon helps replenish the soil nutrients
The carbon cycle is vital to life on Earth. Nature tends to keep carbon levels balanced, meaning that the amount of carbon naturally released from reservoirs is equal to the amount that is naturally absorbed by reservoirs.
Maintaining this carbon balance allows the planet to remain hospitable for life. Scientists believe that humans have upset this balance by burning fossil fuels, which has added more carbon to the atmosphere than usual and led to climate change and global warming.
Carbon is an essential element for life as we know it because of its ability to form multiple, stable bonds with other molecules.
This is why nucleotides, amino acids, sugars, and lipids all depend on carbon backbones: carbon provides a stable structure that allows the chemistry of life to happen.
Without carbon, none of these molecules could exist and function in the ways that permit the chemistry of life to occur.
Carbon in the atmosphere is mostly in the form of carbon dioxide with some methane and hydrofluorocarbons. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing.
Most of the carbon entering the ocean ends up in the deep ocean where it can be carried by currents for hundreds of years or be lost in sediments.
Chlorophyll, the substance that makes algae and plants green, uses the energy from sunlight. In algae and plants
it is contained in a structure called the chloroplast; cyanobacteria carry out photosynthesis directly in the cytoplasm of the cell which involves the use of carbon.
The microbe uses this energy to change carbon dioxide gas from the air and the water around them into a sugar called glucose.
You can check my post on glucose here. The sugar is either transported to other cells and used as food or stored as insoluble starch. This process is called photosynthesis