Here is an amazing visualization of our Earth’s Carbon Cycle through time. Note the date at the top right. Then about 10 seconds in we see another group of red dots appear, these represent Fossil Fuels Deposits. Then it gets interesting. This is something you need to watch a few times if you want it to start making sense, in any event excellent perspective on the what we are physically doing to our planet.
“Earth’s Carbon Cycle”
Robert Rohde - Published on May 22, 2019
Animated diagram of the Earth’s Carbon Cycle and how it has changed over time. Carbon, in various forms including CO2 and organic materials, is continually exchanged between the atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere. In the pre-industrial period, these exchanges found a natural equilibrium such that the amount of carbon in each group remained more or less constant. However, human activities have perturbed the carbon cycle. The large amount of carbon added to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels has dispersed itself through the atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere.
The Carbon Cycle
Posted on May 24, 2019by …and Then There’s Physics
Robert Rohde, who is lead scientist for Berkeley Earth, has created a really nice illustration of the carbon cycle. It shows how the CO2 cycles between the different carbon reservoirs, and how our emissions have perturbed the carbon cycle so that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen from around 280ppm in the mid-1800s to over 410 ppm today.
If we were to cease emitting CO2 into the atmosphere, then CO2 would continue to be taken up by the natural sinks, and the atmospheric concentration would actually drop. However, as I discuss in this post, there is a limit to how much can be taken up by the natural sinks. As a consequence, between 20% and 30% of our emissions will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
As Robert Rohde pointed out on Twitter, the process that ultimately draws down atmospheric CO2 is sedimentation, which is very slow. It will probably take more than 100000 years for atmospheric CO2 to return to pre-industrial levels. We’ve essentially perturbed the carbon cycle so that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will remain elevated for a very long time. …