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Carbon Cycle Animations

Carbon is the backbone of life on Earth. We are made of carbon, we eat carbon, and our civilizations—our economies, our homes, our means of transport—are built on carbon. We need carbon, but that need is also entwined with one of the most serious problems facing us today: global climate change.  Forged in the heart of aging stars, carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the Universe. Most of Earth’s carbon—about 65,500 billion metric tons—is stored in rocks. The rest is in the ocean, atmosphere, plants, soil, and fossil fuels.  Carbon flows between each reservoir in an exchange called the carbon cycle, which has slow and fast components. Any change in the cycle that shifts carbon out of one reservoir puts more carbon in the other reservoirs. Changes that put carbon gases into the atmosphere result in warmer temperatures on Earth[1].

Part A NPR Climate Connections: Summarize the following episodes:

Part B: SEPUP Carbon Cycle

Pre-Industrial Cycle: Describe (briefly) the cycles of the following conditions pre-industrial revolution; you will need to click on all cycles and flashing stars to be able to move on to the Post-Industrial screen

Post-Industrial Cycle: Describe (briefly) how the cycles have changed post-industrial revolution

Part C: The Habitable Planet Carbon Cycle

The release of additional greenhouse gases, specifically CO2 , is expected to increase in future.  This, coupled with further deforestation will result in continued effects on climate.  Current atmospheric CO2 levels have eclipsed 410 ppm[2] according to NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory.   

Using the simulation from Habitable Planet, run at least two simulations with two different levels of fossil fuel use and net deforestation per year.  Record the results (initial and final) in the tables below and conclusions based on the simulation.

Table 1. Carbon Cycle Simulation Test 1 Parameters

Change in fossil fuel use per year

Net deforestation rate per year

Table 2. Carbon Cycle Simulation Test 1 Results

ATM CO2 ppm

Carbon Amounts per Location

Terrestrial Plants

Soil

Coal

Oil & Gas

Surface Ocean

Deep Ocean

Starting Year: 2010

Ending Year: 2100

Conclusions from Simulation 1:

Table 3. Carbon Cycle Simulation Test 2 Parameters

Change in fossil fuel use per year

Net deforestation rate per year

Table 4. Carbon Cycle Simulation Test 2 Results

ATM CO2 ppm

Carbon Amounts per Location

Terrestrial Plants

Soil

Coal

Oil & Gas

Surface Ocean

Deep Ocean

Starting Year: 2010

Ending Year: 2100

Conclusions from Test 2:


[1] Text from Riebeek, Holli. "The Carbon Cycle : Feature Articles." NASA. NASA, 16 June 2011. Web. 23 May 2017.

[2] As of May 22, 2017