What is Carbon Cycle – Definition, Explanation, Steps, Diagram, Examples

At the end of the article you will understand and able to describe Carbon Cycle – Definition with examples, Explanation, Steps, Diagram. Let’s start discussing it.

What is Carbon Cycle – Definition

Carbon is one of the most important elements on earth. All living things are made of carbon. Most of the fuels that humans use for energy are primarily made of carbon including the food we eat.

  • Gas is made from carbon such as carbon dioxide play an important role in regulating climate.
  • Biological activity causes carbon to be constantly converted among different forms and locations.

These movements of carbon are referred to as the carbon cycle.

Or In simple words,

It is defined as the series of processes by which carbon compounds are inter-converted in the environment. Within the soil there is more than twice as much carbon locked up in organic material than there is carbon in the atmosphere.

Carbon Cycle Explanation

We all know that carbon is found all over the earth. Carbon is the key element in all living things. Do you know that

  • Carbon is found in plants, animals, the food we eat, air we breathe and in many more substances.
  • Carbon in the air as gaseous carbon dioxide.
  • It is found in coal, petroleum, and natural gas that is in fossil fuels.
  • Rocks under the ocean are rich in carbon.
  • Carbon is also part of the soil and is dissolved in water such as oceans and lakes.
  • All plants and animals contain carbon.

We almost named all the places where carbon exists. So, we can’t imagine life without carbon element.

Question – Does carbon remain as it is in these or does it move around?


Carbon surely moves it changes its direction. It gets added or removed from the various substances.

Carbon Cycle Steps

The atmosphere is a relatively small reservoir of carbon containing less than 1% of the Earth’s total carbon pool because it’s so small. Even a slight increase in inputs to the carbon atmosphere can have a big impact on the total concentration over time.

From Plants

Green plants use carbon dioxide from the air to make their food this is called photosynthesis. However plants also release carbon to the atmosphere through a process called respiration.

From Fossil Fuels

Plants and trees die as the decompose and mix with the soil some of this plant matter gets compressed under the pressure of upper layers this results in the formation of coal petroleum and natural gas.

From Water

The carbon cycle in water through a process called diffusion. Gases containing carbon move between the ocean surface and the atmosphere. Remember plants in the ocean use carbon dioxide from the water for photosynthesis. Ocean plants store this carbon just like land plants. To get the carbon they store ocean plants and animals release carbon dioxide back into the water through respiration.

From the Oceans

When ocean plants and animals die they decompose in the water. The decomposing plants and animals either sink into the deep ocean and dissolve or settle in the ocean floor where they get buried in the sediment.

Some sea creatures can remove carbon gas from ocean water and use it to make their shells. When these creatures die their carbon filters dissolve or settle on the ocean floor. Also although it takes a long time for rocks to form and wear down. This process circulates carbon in water.

Finally, water moving between the deep ocean and the surface also carries carbon. Some of the ocean’s carbon then moves from the surface to the atmosphere.

This is all about the basics of Carbon Cycle – Definition with examples, Explanation, Steps, Diagram.

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