Why is carbon so important? • Carbon is the basis of all organic (living) molecules. (Including us!) It makes up our genetic material (DNA and RNA) and proteins—which are essential for life. • Carbon can bond to almost any other molecule. All of the light blue balls in this DNA molecule are carbon molecules! .
What is the carbon cycle? • The carbon cycle is the process through which carbon is cycled through the air, oceans, ground, plants, animals, and fossil fuels (burned by humans).
Where is Carbon Stored? • Carbon exists in the nonliving (abiotic) environment as: • carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, soil, and dissolved in water. • carbonate rocks (limestone and coral). • deposits of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum (oil), and natural gas that were long ago living things. • Recently dead organic matter, e.g., humus in the soil.
Where is Carbon Stored? • Carbon enters the living (biotic) world in the process of photosynthesis: • Green plants and algae duringtake up carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. The carbon is converted to sugars (food for plants) and oxygen is released.
Carbon Sources • Carbon returns to the atmosphere and water by • cellular respiration (as CO2) • Animals do the opposite of plants--they release carbon dioxide back into the air as a waste product from respiration. • Decomposers, when they break down dead organic matter, release carbon dioxide into the air. Decomposers are essential because without them, all of the carbon on the planet would eventually become locked up in dead carcasses and trash. Decay permits carbon to be released back into the food web.
Carbon Sources • Carbon also returns to the atmosphere and water by • Volcanoes and fires release large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. • Carbon is also stored in fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum (oil), and natural gas. When these are burned, carbon dioxide is released back into the air. • Carbon dioxide can dissolve in water, where some of it is later returned back into the atmosphere. Some is taken from the water to form calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which builds up shells, rocks, and skeletons of protozoans and coral.
Picture References • https://nisd.schoolnet.com/Outreach/Content/ServeAttachment.aspx?outreach_content_id=213adb7f-848e-4e36-86b3-274b03f45580 • http://www.cbse.uab.edu/ribbons/help/dna_rgb.gif • http://eo.ucar.edu/kids/green/images/carboncycle_sm.jpg • http://www.mbari.org/expeditions/GOC/logbook/Leg5/leg5images/0423w-rock.jpg • http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_tQ74IfNZmZQ/R9rgDnmaSOI/AAAAAAAAEo0/S8UaY4fjrtM/s400/fossil_fuels.gif • http://static.squidoo.com/resize/squidoo_images/-1/lens3135202_1236698205humus2.jpg • http://grapevine.net.au/~grunwald/une/KLAs/science/irrigation-photosynthesis.gif • http://www.litzsinger.org/weblog/archives/email%20SowBug3%20LREC%20101405.jpg • http://itodyaso.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/volcano.jpg • http://coe.sdsu.edu/people/jmora/Ocean.JPG