The carbon cycle is the process by which carbon enters and exits the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide, and along with other gases, acts as a warming layer for Earth. Without this layer of gases, the Earth would be too cold to sustain life. There are many carbon cycle models and carbon cycle demonstration kits available to assist in the explanation of this process. Below is a basic explanation of the carbon cycle.
The Carbon Cycle
Carbon is released into the environment in many ways. Animals and plants respire, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Animals release solid waste products into the soil and water. Also, leaves, roots, wood and dead animals decay. Finally, the burning of fossil fuels and wood release stored carbon into the atmosphere.
The carbon that is released into the environment, is used by many plants and animals. This is the part of the carbon cycle that removes carbon from the atmosphere. Plants and algae take in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Many sea creatures take in carbon when making shells and bones. When these animals die and sink to the ocean floor, this carbon is stored for some time.
The Ocean’s Role
The majority of photosynthesis occurs in the oceans by algae and phytoplankton. Also, due to the large surface area of the oceans , carbon dioxide diffuses in and out in an attempt to equalize.