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Earth's carbon sinks and sources

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Illustration of how increasing manmade carbon pollution affects the Earth's ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

Published in: Environment
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Earth's carbon sinks and sources

  1. 1. Prior to the industrial revolution the planet was able to absorb greenhouse gases emitted by natural sources VOLCANOES FIRESFORESTS OCEANSOCEANSLAKES & STREAMS Natural CO2 Sinks (Absorb CO2 from atmosphere) Natural CO2 Emitters (Release CO2 into atmosphere)
  2. 2. •  Natural  greenhouse  gases:  primarily  carbon  dioxide  (CO2)   and  water  vapor   •  Main  industrial  greenhouse  gas  is  CO2  from  burning   (combus@on)  coal,  oil  and  gas   •  Coal  has  the  highest  carbon  content  of  all  fossil  fuels   •  CO2  from  coal  burning  contributed  slightly  over  28%  to   atmospheric  greenhouse  gases  in  2010.  ( hGp://www.c2es.org/energy/source/coal)  
  3. 3. When we built dams and drained lakes and streams we eliminated a natural CO2 sink. VOLCANOES FIRESFORESTS OCEANSOCEANS Natural CO2 Sinks (Absorb CO2 from atmosphere) Natural CO2 Emitters (Release CO2 into atmosphere)
  4. 4. CO2  is  more  soluble  in  fresh  water  than  in  salt  water,   but,  by  volume,  lakes  and  streams  are  less  effec@ve   sinks  than  are  oceans  and  rainforests.    
  5. 5. After the industrial revolution we began to add excess carbon pollution into our atmosphere primarily by burning coal and oil. FORESTS OCEANSOCEANS VOLCANOES FIRESCARBON EMISSIONS CO2 CO2
  6. 6. The  commonly  accepted  onset  of  the  Industrial   Revolu@on  is  around  1850.  That  is  when  humans   began  to  burn  fossil  fuels  to  generate  power  to   drive  machinery.  (hGp://www.princeton.edu/ ~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/ Industrial_Revolu@on.html    
  7. 7. Deforestation leaves the oceans as the major carbon sink. OCEANSOCEANS VOLCANOES FIRESCARBON EMISSIONS CO2 CO2
  8. 8. “Forests  cover  31%  of  the  land  area  on  our   planet.  …Deforesta@on  undermines  this   important  carbon  sink.  It  is  es@mated  that   15%  of  all  greenhouse  gas  emissions  are  the   result  of  deforesta@on.”(hGp:// worldwildlife.org/threats/deforesta@on)    
  9. 9. Vehicle emissions continue to add to the stress on the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2. Excess CO2 is making our oceans acidic. OCEANSOCEANS VOLCANOES FIRESCARBON EMISSIONSAUTOMOBILES CO2 CO2
  10. 10. Ocean  acidifica@on:   •  hGp://www.unc.edu/~lbuckley/GCE/uploads/ Main/Doney%20et%20al%202009.pdf   •  The  oceans  are  Earth’s  last,  great  defense  against   carbon  pollu@on  and  they  are  being  stressed— becoming  warmer  and  acidic.   •  Contrary  to  early  popular  beliefs,  the  oceans  are   not  limitless.  

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