What’s happening with the Carbon Cycle

How the Carbon Cycle should be

The carbon cycle tells us how carbon, one of the most essential elements needed for life, travels from the surface of the earth to the atmosphere. A producer uses carbon dioxide in order to conduct photosynthesis. Then a primary consumer will eat the consumer and the carbon will also be transferred from the producer to the consumer.Then when another consumer eats that consumer or it dies the carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere and the cycle will restart. Carbon can also be stored for longer periods of time during the carbon cycle. Forests are a good carbon sink because trees can hold carbon for multiple years. Trees also provide the atmosphere with oxygen using carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Recently, scientists have been observing that the majority of carbon sinks are located in the southern hemisphere but not in “big forests, but in dry places, even deserts, places where the only green things are shrubs or tall grass.” This had scientists wondering what was happening because this was not coherent with the carbon cycle, so they did research and learned that rain played apart in this occurrence. The year before this happened the precipitation in the southern hemisphere was more than usual and it caused the carbon dioxide to move to these dry environments. Scientists reported that “plants become more efficient with their water use under elevated CO2 in the atmosphere.” The plants in these areas then flourish with the rain and carbon dioxide because both water and CO2 are necessary for photosynthesis to occur. Ecologists were concerned about this change in the carbon cycle because they fear that it is not sustainable. Ecologist Daniel Metcalfe at the University of Lund in Sweden explained that having carbon stored in small plants is a short term solution because these plants usually live for a couple of years. He stressed that trees were the ideal place to store carbon for “tens or hundreds or sometimes even thousands of years.” The carbon cycle is one of the most important cycles that we must monitor because of its relevance to life on earth. With the recent increase in combustion of carbon due to human reliance on coal, oil, and natural gases the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is not healthy because the ratio of carbon in the atmosphere to carbon in the earth’s surface is supposed to be close. With the combustion of fossil fuels and the cutting down of trees in forests the ratio of carbon in the atmosphere to carbon on earth’s surface is becoming unstable. The carbon cycle is important to monitor in order to ensure the sustainability of life on our earth! Listen to the NPR on this it’s very interesting! Link is in the bibliography.




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