Carbon cycle Essay Example

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Carbon cycle is a biogeochemical cycle involving the exchange of carbon in hydrosphere, biosphere, geosphere, pedosphere and the atmosphere. The carbon cycle together with nitrogen cycle and water cycle involve a sequence of events that are key in sustainability of life on this planet. The cycle gives a description of carbon movement in the biosphere as it is being used, recycled and its storage in carbon sinks. The balance of exchanges of carbon that occurs between the various reservoirs of carbon or between a specific loop such as atmosphere and biosphere is called global carbon budget.

) which is one of the causes of greenhouse effect and it is the greenhouse gas that is majorly linked to human activities (2). 2Molecules which have carbon as part of their composition are very important in sustaining life on the planet due to the fact that the main component of biological compounds is carbon. Many minerals also have carbon as their major component. In atmosphere carbon take various forms with the most common form being carbon dioxide (CO

).Buis, et al.,2015 recorded 420,000 years ago the current level is much higher and this shows that there is a great need of having a better understanding of carbon cycle and the effect it has on the global climate (2CO
When compared to the level of
).Kleypas, 1999 will occur without the global temperatures being affected (2in the atmosphere, no significant change of CO
2in the atmosphere the weather patterns have been changed with the oceanic chemistry being affected indirectly. Ice cores records have indicated that, even though even the here can be occurrence of changes in levels of CO
2Even though there have been some carbon dioxide changes that has occurred due some natural causes in the past several thousand years, the carbon dioxide emission attributed to human activities are well beyond the natural fluctuations (2). Due to the changes in the CO

Human activities effect on carbon cycle

There has been a big modification of the carbon cycle that is attributed to human activities through change of its components functions and through direct addition of carbon in the atmosphere since industrial revolution. Direct emissions as a result of fossil fuel burning is seen as the largest and most direct human influence on carbon cycle in which there is transfer of carbon from the geosphere into the atmosphere. By changing the terrestrial and oceanic biosphere the carbon cycle is also influenced by humans.

(Lal, Rattan ,2008).In the past several centuries there has been considerable loss of biodiversity which is attributable to land use and land cover change (LUCC) by humans leading to a low level ecosystem resilience to environmental stresses and a decrease in the ability of the ecosystem to regulate the atmospheric carbon. Human activities also results to carbon being directly removed from terrestrial ecosystem into the atmosphere. The action of humans clearing forests in their bid to acquire land for agricultural use results to loss of forest which are supposed to hold large amount of carbon and as a replacement of the forest the land is used for agriculture of for urban settlement. These changes in land use do not have the ability of carbon storage that can be equated to that of forest coverage and this translates to more carbon being retained in atmosphere

The level of productivity of the ecosystem and their level of removal of carbon from atmosphere is affected by other changes attributed to human activities. Air pollution will result to damages of plants and soils while some land use and agricultural practices are likely to result to an increase in soil erosion with carbon being washed out of the soils and plant production being reduced considerably.

The oceanic carbon cycle is also affected by human activities. The climatic changes that are being experienced currently results to a rise in ocean temperatures the end result of which is modification of the ocean ecosystem. Runoff which is highly polluted, as a result of changes in agricultural practices and industrial activities; and acidic rain result to change in the chemical composition of the ocean. These changes in the ocean have dramatic effect on coral reefs ecosystem due to their high sensitivity and this limits the ability of the ocean to absorb atmospheric carbon at a regional scale with global oceanic biodiversity being affected.


The carbon cycle has been discussed and the role of human activities being clearly being shown to disrupt this cycle majorly through release of carbon dioxide into atmosphere by burning fossil fuel and also clearing forest. There is need for some of the human activities to be curtailed in order to limit the disruption of the carbon cycle.


(5411): 118–120284Kleypas, J. A.; et al. (1999). «Geochemical Consequences of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Coral Reefs». Science

: 86–100.1 in global carbon pools». Energy and Environmental Science 2Lal, Rattan (2008). «Sequestration of atmospheric CO

.NASA. «A Breathing Planet, Off Balance»Buis, et al. (2015).

(2): 639.14Langdon, C. et al.(2000). «Effect of calcium carbonate saturation state on the calcification rate of an experimental coral reef». Global Biogeochemical Cycles