The Short Term Carbon Cycle

The "carbon cycle," as most people understand it, is represented in figure 1.1. Carbon dioxide is taken up via photosynthesis by green plants on the continents or phytoplankton in the ocean. On land carbon is transferred to soils by the dropping of leaves, root growth, and respiration, the death of plants, and the development of soil biota. Land herbivores eat the plants, and carnivores eat the herbivores. In the oceans the phytoplankton are eaten by zooplankton that are in turn eaten by larger and larger organisms. The plants, plankton, and animals respire CO2. Upon death the plants and animals are decomposed by microorganisms with the ultimate production of CO2. Carbon dioxide is exchanged between

Short Term Carbon Cycle

Marine respiration

Figure 1.1. The short-term carbon cycle. (Adapted from Berner, 1999.)

Marine respiration

Figure 1.1. The short-term carbon cycle. (Adapted from Berner, 1999.)

the oceans and atmosphere, and dissolved organic matter is carried in solution by rivers from soils to the sea. This all constitutes the short-term carbon cycle. The word "short-term" is used because the characteristic times for transferring carbon between reservoirs range from days to tens of thousands of years. Because the earth is more than four billion years old, this is short on a geological time scale.

As the short-term cycle proceeds, concentrations of the two principal atmospheric gases, CO2 and CH4, can change as a result of perturbations of the cycle. Because these two are both greenhouse gases—in other words, they adsorb outgoing infrared radiation from the earth surface— changes in their concentrations can involve global warming and cooling over centuries and many millennia. Such changes have accompanied global climate change over the Quaternary period (past 2 million years), although other factors, such as variations in the receipt of solar radiation due to changes in characteristics of the earth's orbit, have also contributed to climate change. Over the past century human perturbation of the short-term carbon cycle, from activities such as deforestation and biomass burning (for CO2), and rice cultivation and cattle raising (for CH4), have contributed to a rise in atmospheric levels of these gases. However, the major perturbation of the level of atmospheric CO2, and consequently an overall rise in global temperature over the past century, is due to a process of the long-term carbon cycle. This is the burning of fossil fuels. Organic matter in sedimentary rocks, which would otherwise be slowly exposed to the atmosphere by erosion and oxidized by weathering, is instead being rapidly removed from the ground, oxidized by burning, and given off to the atmosphere as CO2.

Organic Gardening

Organic Gardening

Gardening is also a great way to provide healthy food for you and your loved ones. When you buy produce from the store, it just isnt the same as presenting a salad to your family that came exclusively from your garden worked by your own two hands.

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Responses

  • SIRJA
    What are the steps of a short term carbon cycle?
    5 years ago
  • marco
    Where does most cabon actively cycle on a shorter time scale?
    4 years ago
  • molly maclean
    What is the shortterm process of the carbon cycle?
    4 years ago
  • yolanda took-took
    How important is death in the short term carbon cycle?
    3 years ago
  • Niina Kuisma
    What is the difference between short and long Carbon cycles?
    3 years ago
  • hannu
    What is the difference of short term and long term cycling of carbon?
    3 years ago
  • ERMIAS
    How important is photosynthesis in a short term carbon cycle?
    2 years ago
  • MEHARI ZULA
    What are two processes drive the short term carbon cycle?
    2 years ago
  • mirren
    Which of the following is an example of short term carbon storage?
    2 years ago
  • ROSAMUNDA HOGPEN
    How do wild fires affect the cartbon cycle short term?
    2 years ago
  • Faruz
    What is the difference between short term recycling and long term recycling of carbon?
    1 year ago
  • frank eisenhower
    How does carbon move in the short cycle?
    7 months ago
  • olga
    Why are short term changes to the water cycle important?
    6 months ago
  • gilberto beneventi
    How does human activities impact the carbon cycle in the lon and short term?
    5 months ago
  • wilma
    How does human activity affect the carbon cycle in the long and short term?
    5 months ago
  • christopher
    What cycle effects plankton dying?
    3 months ago
  • Nicodemo
    Why is the carbon cycle important to humans?
    29 days ago

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