Encyclopedia of Geochemistry

2018 Edition
| Editors: William M. White

Carbon Cycle

  • Elizabeth A. CanuelEmail author
  • Amber K. Hardison
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-39312-4_175


The biochemical and geochemical cycling of the organic and inorganic forms of carbon through Earth processes is referred to as the global carbon cycle. The carbon cycle considers the flow of carbon across four reservoirs: atmosphere; continental, including the biosphere, freshwaters, and soils; ocean; and geosphere (Fig. 1). Processes influencing the transfer of carbon between reservoirs occur over short (active) and long (geologic) timescales. The global carbon cycle is closely linked to the cycles of other elements (e.g., oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur) because of the important role these elements play in biological and geological processes. Studies of the carbon cycle encompass contemporary, historical, and geologic timescales. Analyses of the rock and sediment records aim to understand how the carbon cycle has varied in the past in response to global transformations and earth system cycles and provide useful analogues for understanding future change. Ice cores...
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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical Science, Virginia Institute of Marine ScienceCollege of William & MaryGloucester PointUSA
  2. 2.Marine Science InstituteThe University of Texas at AustinPort AransasUSA