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Engineering LibreTexts

5.2: Investigation

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  • Activity – Examining the Carbon Cycle

    Using Figure 5.1.1 and the information from its legend, address the following questions…


    1. What is the total carbon storage in gigatons for each of the four major spheres of the earth? These spheres are the atmosphere, geosphere, oceans, and biosphere.
    2. How do these spheres compare in term of their carbon storage? To answer this question rank them in terms of their total storage and calculate what percentage of the total global storage each represents.
    3. Which of the carbon exchanges listed in box L5 of Table 5.1.1 remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they put into it? Which put more carbon into the air than they remove?
    4. Based on the carbon emission rates listed in box L5, how long would it take industrial society to double the amount of carbon in the atmosphere if emission stayed fixed at these rates?
    5. Based on the flow and storage estimates in boxes L4 and L5, how many years would it take to exhaust the fossil fuels reserves shown in the model?
    6. The carbon flow rates listed in box L5 are for short term carbon exchanges (transfer that take less than a 1000 years). Based on this information what might be some longer terms exchanges that show up on Figure 5.1.1 that do not appear in box L5?
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