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The Chemical Cycles

The Carbon Cycle
The Carbon Cycle describes the flow of carbon between living organisms and the non-living environment. Carbon cycles through the environment in the form of a gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). The atmosphere of Earth contains .04 percent CO2.

Illustration of the Carbon Cycle

Living organisms provide two important steps in the carbon cycle:

  • Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to use during photosynthesis.
  • Other organisms release CO2 into the air during respiration.

In addition, there are several important non-organic storage areas of carbon in the environment:

  • A large portion of the Carbon on the Earth is stored in rocks.
  • The Earth's oceans hold a large amount of CO2 because it easily dissolves in water.
  • Coal, oil, and limestone store carbon that once formed ancient organisms. Burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil, will release CO2 into the atmosphere.
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