The Carbon Cycle: What Goes Around, Comes Around.
In Lab 2, you will investigate how carbon moves (cycles) through the "neighborhoods" of the Earth System - the atmosphere, the hydrosphere (Earth's oceans), the geosphere (Earth's soils and rock layers) and the biosphere (all the living organisms that exist on Earth). As you can see in the carbon cycle diagram below, carbon moves around quite a bit - just like New York taxi cabs! As you investigate the carbon cycle, you will find answers to the following essential questions:
- How does carbon move from one Earth System sphere (neighborhood) to another
- How does carbon change as it moves from one part of the carbon cycle to another?
- Where is carbon stored? For how long?
By the end of Lab 2, you will be able to:
- Describe how the primary biosphere processes of photosynthesis, cell respiration, decomposition and combustion move carbon atoms between the geosphere (atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere) and the biosphere.
- Identify the four major carbon reservoirs and explain how carbon can move from one reservoir to another.
- Provide examples of the various time scales at which carbon moves through Earth's spheres.
- Describe the effects of negative and positive feedback on the carbon cycle in a western U.S. forest ecosystem that has been disrupted by a pine bark beetle infestation.
In Part A, you will take a carbon journey through a forest carbon cycle. In this activity, you will explore the importance of biosphere processes in moving carbon through a forest ecosystem.
In Part B, you will use a carbon cycle interactive to determine how carbon moves through the global carbon cycle.
In Part C, you will use systems thinking strategies to identify causal connections and feedbacks in a complex system - the Carbon Cycle.
Keeping Track of What You LearnThroughout these labs, you will find two kinds of questions.
- Checking In questions are intended to keep you engaged and focused on key concepts and to allow you to periodically check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
- Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills you should be learning from the lab activities and readings.