There are lots of natural processes constantly happening all around us, these processes are often linked by passing one type of atom to the next process which passes the same atom to the next one and so on. This ‘passing of the atom’ along a chain of processes is called a cycle, the series of processes in which the carbon atom goes through is called the carbon cycle. Each Carbon is the fourth most affluent element in the universe and is an important part of most molecules that make up most of the world’s natural resources and organic matter, which is why the carbon cycle is one of the most important cycles on earth. Through-out the cycle, carbon can become several different forms such as sugar, oil, diamond and marble. Processes such as photosynthesis, combustion and the compression of the earth play key roles in changing, containing and releasing carbon. All the chemical reactions and processes and forms carbon creates are part of the carbon cycle, which is one of the most important cycle on earth. The majority of carbon on earth is in the atmosphere the rest is stored in rocks, fossil fuels, oceans, plants and soil. Carbon is constantly being added to the atmosphere, the most common forms being carbon dioxide and methane gas. At the same time it’s being removed by plants on land and in the oceans. Carbon can be stored for hundreds of years in sediment, fossil fuels, rocks and the ocean. The carbon in the atmosphere is almost always a compound called carbon dioxide.
The addition of carbon to the atmosphere
Currently the earth’s atmosphere contains most of the world’s carbon, in 2010 carbon levels in the atmosphere were measured at 18.4 billion metric tonnes.
Respiration and excretion
The most common natural way carbon enters the atmosphere is through respiration from living organisms. For living organisms consume carbon compounds such as glucose (C6H12O6) and breathe in oxygen (O2) while inside our bodies the elements and compounds are mixed up which results in the production of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane gas (CH4), water (H2O) and faeces which also contains carbon.
When plants and animals die they are decomposed and converted into organic matter, which if buried by other organic materials such as soil and water, then left for numerous years the extreme pressure builds up and can cause the formation of fossil fuels. Depending on the amount of animal and plant debris present, how long the material was buried and the temperature, changes the kind of fossil fuel the matter will turn into.
Combustion is actually a chemical reaction between a substance and oxygen. There are many forests are the world that are manmade and have been created for humans to burn, this burning releases all the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Although wood is not the only substance that releases carbon dioxide through combustion. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gases are often burnt, in enormous amounts, in factories to...