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Carbon cycle

Carousel of Carbon

Round and round goes carbon around our planet. At the same time, figuratively, carbon makes the world go 'round. The element is the building block of life on Earth and, in the form of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere, it has a powerful impact on the planet's climate. In the process, carbon also goes through rivers, oceans, and the ocean's twilight zone (see interactive). Humans have intervened and interfered with the carbon cycle and quickly transferred carbon from slow to active pools by extracting large amounts of hydrocarbons from the Earth and burning them for fuel, putting an excess of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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