24 terms

The major stores of carbon

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Atmospheric CO2
Carbon held in the air as a gas
Hydrosphere
Discontinuous layer of water at or near the earth's surface. Includes all liquid and frozen surface water, groundwater, atmospheric water vapour
Lithosphere
Solid outer section of Earth, including Earth's crust as well as the underlying cool dense and rigid upper part of mantle
Cryosphere
Frozen water in the Earth's system. Included frozen parts of ocean, glaciers, and ice sheets
Biosphere
the regions of the surface and atmosphere of the earth or another planet occupied by living organisms. Important store of carbon
GtC
Gigatonne of Carbon Dioxide equivalent, unit used by United Nations climate change panel to measure amounts of carbon in various stores.
1 GtC
amounts to 10^9 tonnes of carbon(1 billion tonnes)
Transfer (flux) of carbon
The movement of carbon between stores, for example, the acidic weathering of limestone can release carbon into the atmosphere
Inorganic carbon deposits lithosphere
include fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, shale oil and carbonate based sedimentary rocks like limestone
Organic forms of carbon in lithosphere
include leaf litter, organic matter and humic substances found in the soils
Marine sediments and sedimentary rocks
contain up to 100million GtC
Soil organic matter
Originates from teh decomposition of vegetation litter and contains between 1,500 and 1,600GtC
Ocean surface layer (euphotic zone)
where sunlight penetrates so photosynthesis can take place - approx 900GtC
Ocean intermediate zone (twilight zone)
contains approx 37,100GtC of carbon
Ocean living organic matter
fish, plankton, bacteria etc. have 30GtC and dissolved organic matter 700GtC
Natural carbon sequestration in the oceans
because when organisms dies their dead cells, shells and other parts sink to the deep water. Some is released by decay into the deep water but much accumulates as carbon rich sediments
Biosphere stores of carbon
vary massively by ecosystem type, forests have the biggest stores
Plant litter
Dead plant material, such as leaves and twigs, that has fallen to the ground. Higher in forests thatn in grasslands
Peat
partially decayed plant matter found in bogs, formed in low oxygen anaerobic conditions that slow down rates of plant litter decomposition.
7,000ppm
The amount of carbon thought to be in the atmosphere during the Cambrian period 500million years ago
<300ppm
Value of carbon in the atmosphere from 800,000 years ago to the 20th century
>400ppm
Today's concentration of CO2
Mauno Loa Observatory
Place where atmospheric carbon has been measured since 1958, in Hawaii
Keeling curve
a graph made over the span of 50 years that shows the increase of carbon dioxide
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