Gerrit Lohmann


  • The Global Carbon Cycle


    Carbon is unquestionably one of the most important elements on Earth. It is the principal building block for the organic compounds that make up life. Carbon's electron structure gives it a plus 4 charge, which means that it can readily form bonds with itself, leading to a great diversity in the chemical compounds that can be formed around carbon; hence the diversity and complexity of life. Carbon occurs in many other forms and places on Earth; it is a major constituent of limestones, occurring as calcium carbonate; it is dissolved in ocean water and fresh water; and it is present in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the second most important greenhouse gas. The flow of carbon throughout the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere is a very complex, interesting, and important of the global cycles. The global carbon cycle is currently the topic of great interest because of its importance in the global climate system and also because human activities are altering the carbon cycle to a significant degree. More than any other global cycle, the carbon cycle challenges us to draw together information from biology, chemistry, oceanography, and geology in order to understand how it works and what causes it to change. During the lessons and seminars, the major reservoirs for carbon and the processes that move carbon from reservoir to reservoir are shown. Using box models, carbon cycle processes are discussed in detail during some practical work.


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