Discuss the biogeochemical cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfurExplain exactly how human tasks have affected these cycles and the resulting potential after-effects for Earth

Energy operation directionally v ecosystems, entering as sunshine (or not natural molecules for chemoautotrophs) and leaving as heat throughout the transfers between trophic levels. Quite than flowing through an ecosystem, the matter that makes up living organisms is conserved and recycled. The six most common aspects associated v organic molecules—carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur—take a selection of chemical forms and also may exist for lengthy periods in the atmosphere, top top land, in water, or beneath earth’s surface. Geologic processes, such together weathering, erosion, water drainage, and also the subduction that the continent plates, all play a duty in the cycle of elements on Earth. Due to the fact that geology and chemistry have major roles in the study of this process, the recycling of not natural matter between living organisms and their nonliving atmosphere is referred to as a biogeochemical cycle.

You are watching: Which one of the following statements about the carbon, phosphorus, and nitrogen cycles is true?

Water, which contains hydrogen and also oxygen, is vital to every living processes. The hydrosphere is the area of planet where water movement and also storage occurs: together liquid water ~ above the surface ar (rivers, lakes, oceans) and also beneath the surface ar (groundwater) or ice, (polar ice caps and also glaciers), and as water vapor in the atmosphere. Carbon is found in all organic macromolecules and is crucial constituent of fossil fuels. Nitrogen is a significant component the our main point acids and also proteins and is crucial to person agriculture. Phosphorus, a major component of main point acids, is among the key ingredients (along through nitrogen) in synthetic fertilizers used in agriculture, i beg your pardon has environmental impacts ~ above our surface water. Sulfur, vital to the three-dimensional urgently of proteins (as in disulfide binding), is released into the setting by the burn of fossil fuels.

The cycling of these facets is interconnected. Because that example, the activity of water is vital for the leaching the nitrogen and phosphate into rivers, lakes, and also oceans. The ocean is also a major reservoir for carbon. Thus, mineral nutrients are cycled, either rapidly or slowly, through the whole biosphere in between the biotic and also abiotic world and from one life organism come another.

The Water Cycle

Water is vital for every living processes. The person body is more than one-half water and also human cells are more than 70 percent water. Thus, many land pets need a supply of new water come survive. That the stores of water top top Earth, 97.5 percent is salt water (

). That the remaining water, 99 percent is locked together underground water or ice. Thus, less than one percent of fresh water is existing in lakes and rivers. Many living things space dependent top top this small amount of surface ar fresh water supply, a lack of which deserve to have important results on ecosystem dynamics. Humans, of course, have arisen technologies to increase water availability, such together digging wells come harvest groundwater, storing rainwater, and using desalination to attain drinkable water indigenous the ocean. Return this pursuit of safe and clean water has actually been recurring throughout human being history, the it is provided of fresh water proceeds to it is in a major issue in contemporary times.

Figure 2: Water from the land and oceans start the atmosphere by evaporation or sublimation, wherein it condenses right into clouds and falls as rain or snow. Precipitated water may go into freshwater body or infiltrate the soil. The cycle is complete when surface or underground water reenters the ocean. (credit: modification of job-related by man M. Evans and Howard Perlman, USGS)The Carbon Cycle

Carbon is the 4th most abundant element in life organisms. Carbon is existing in every organic molecules, and also its function in the framework of macromolecules is of main importance to life organisms. Carbon compounds save energy, and also many of these compounds native plants and also algae have remained stored together fossilized carbon, which human beings use together fuel. Because the 1800s, the usage of fossil fuels has accelerated. As worldwide demand because that Earth’s minimal fossil fuel supplies has risen due to the fact that the start of the industrial Revolution, the quantity of carbon dioxide in our setting has boosted as the fuels room burned. This increase in carbon dioxide has been associated with climate change and is a major environmental concern worldwide.

The carbon cycle is most conveniently studied as two interconnected subcycles: one taking care of rapid carbon exchange amongst living organisms and the other dealing with the irreversible cycling of carbon with geologic processes. The whole carbon bicycle is presented in


Figure 4: Nitrogen enters the living people from the setting through nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This nitrogen and nitrogenous garbage from pets is then processed ago into gas nitrogen by soil bacteria, which likewise supply terrestrial food webs v the necessary nitrogen castle need. (credit: change of occupational by man M. Evans and also Howard Perlman, USGS)

Which that the complying with statements about the nitrogen bike is false?

Ammonification converts organic nitrogenous issue from living organisms right into ammonium (NH4+).Denitrification through bacteria switch nitrates (NO3−)to nitrogen gas (N2).Nitrification by bacteria switch nitrates (NO3−)to nitrites (NO2−)Nitrogen resolving bacteria transform nitrogen gas (N2) right into organic compounds.Show Answer3: Nitrification by bacteria counter nitrates (NO3-) to nitrites (NO3-).

Human task can release nitrogen right into the atmosphere by two main means: the combustion of fossil fuels, i m sorry releases different nitrogen oxides, and by the usage of synthetic fertilizers (which contain nitrogen and phosphorus compounds) in agriculture, which are then washed into lakes, streams, and rivers by surface runoff. Atmospheric nitrogen (other than N2) is associated with several effects on earth ecosystems including the production of mountain rain (as nitric acid, HNO3) and greenhouse gas effects (as nitrous oxide, N2O), potentially bring about climate change. A significant effect from fertilizer runoff is saltwater and freshwater eutrophication, a process whereby nutrient runoff reasons the overgrowth the algae and also a variety of consequential problems.

A similar process occurs in the naval nitrogen cycle, whereby the ammonification, nitrification, and also denitrification processes are perform by maritime bacteria and also archaea. Several of this nitrogen drops to the ocean floor as sediment, which deserve to then be moved to land in geologic time by uplift of earth surface, and also thereby included into terrestrial rock. Although the motion of nitrogen indigenous rock directly into life systems has actually been traditionally seen as insignificant compared with nitrogen resolved from the atmosphere, a recent study verified that this process may undoubtedly be significant and should be had in any type of study that the an international nitrogen cycle.1

Phosphorus is critical nutrient because that living processes; that is a major component of nucleic acids and also phospholipids, and, as calcium phosphate, makes up the supportive contents of our bones. Phosphorus is regularly the limiting nutrient (necessary for growth) in aquatic, specifically freshwater, ecosystems.

Phosphorus occurs in nature together the phosphate ion (PO43-). In addition to phosphate runoff as a result of person activity, herbal surface runoff occurs as soon as it is leached native phosphate-containing rock by weathering, therefore sending phosphates right into rivers, lakes, and the ocean. This rock has actually its origins in the ocean. Phosphate-containing ocean sediments form primarily native the body of ocean organisms and from your excretions. However, volcanic ash, aerosols, and also mineral dust may additionally be significant phosphate sources. This sediment climate is moved to land over geologic time through the uplifting of earth surface. (


Phosphorus is likewise reciprocally exchanged in between phosphate dissolved in the ocean and marine organisms. The movement of phosphate from the ocean to the land and through the soil is extremely slow, v the average phosphate ion having actually an oceanic residence time between 20,000 and 100,000 years.

Figure 6: Dead zones take place when phosphorus and also nitrogen indigenous fertilizers cause excessive development of microorganisms, i beg your pardon depletes oxygen and kills fauna. Worldwide, large dead area are found in areas of high population density. (credit: Robert Simmon, Jesse Allen, NASA earth Observatory)

A dead ar is an area in lakes and also oceans near the mouths of rivers where large areas are periodically depleted of their normal flora and fauna; these zones deserve to be resulted in by eutrophication, oil spills, dumping toxicity chemicals, and also other person activities. The variety of dead zones has increased for several years, and an ext than 400 of these area were existing as that 2008. Among the worst dead area is turn off the shore of the United states in the Gulf that Mexico: fertilizer runoff indigenous the Mississippi River basin created a dead region of over 8,463square miles. Phosphate and nitrate runoff indigenous fertilizers additionally negatively affect several lake and bay ecosystems including the Chesapeake only in the eastern unified States.

Chesapeake Bay

Figure 8: Sulfur dioxide indigenous the environment becomes available to terrestrial and also marine ecosystems once it is dissolved in precipitation together weak sulfuric acid or once it falls directly to planet as fallout. Weathering of rocks also makes sulfates obtainable to terrestrial ecosystems. Decomposition of life organisms returns sulfates to the ocean, soil, and also atmosphere. (credit: modification of work by man M. Evans and also Howard Perlman, USGS)

Sulfur is critical element because that the macromolecules of life things. As component of the amino acid cysteine, that is involved in the formation of proteins. As presented in

, sulfur cycles between the oceans, land, and also atmosphere. Atmospheric sulfur is discovered in the type of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which enters the environment in three ways: first, indigenous the decomposition of necessary molecules; second, native volcanic activity and geothermal vents; and, third, from the burning of fossil fuel by humans.

On land, sulfur is deposited in four significant ways: precipitation, direct fallout indigenous the atmosphere, rock weathering, and also geothermal vents (

). Atmospheric sulfur is uncovered in the form of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and also as rain falls through the atmosphere, sulfur is dissolved in the kind of weak sulfuric mountain (H2SO4). Sulfur can also fall straight from the setting in a process called fallout. Also, as sulfur-containing rocks weather, sulfur is released right into the soil. These rocks originate from ocean sediments the are moved to land by the geologic uplifting of ocean sediments. Terrestrial ecosystems have the right to then manipulate these soil sulfates (SO42-), which enter the food web by gift taken up by plant roots. Once these plants decompose and die, sulfur is released earlier into the environment as hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas.

Figure 9: in ~ this sulfur vent in Lassen Volcanic nationwide Park in northeastern California, the yellowish sulfur deposits space visible near the mouth the the vent. (credit: “Calbear22″/Wikimedia Commons)

Sulfur beginning the ocean in runoff indigenous land, native atmospheric fallout, and also from underwater geothermal vents. Some ecosystems depend on chemoautotrophs making use of sulfur together a organic energy source. This sulfur then supports naval ecosystems in the kind of sulfates.

Human tasks have played a significant role in changing the balance that the an international sulfur cycle. The burn of large quantities of fossil fuels, especially from coal, release larger amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas right into the atmosphere. Together rain falls through this gas, it creates the phenomenon well-known as acid rain, which damages the natural setting by lowering the pH of lakes, for this reason killing numerous of the residents plants and animals. Mountain rain is corrosive rain led to by rainwater falling come the ground through sulfur dioxide gas, turning it right into weak sulfuric acid, which reasons damage to aquatic ecosystems. Mountain rain likewise affects the fabricated environment through the chemical degradation of buildings. For example, countless marble monuments, such together the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, have actually suffered far-ranging damage from mountain rain end the years. These examples display the wide-ranging results of human activities on ours environment and the challenges that stay for our future.

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Section Summary

Mineral nutrients room cycled v ecosystems and also their environment. Of specific importance room water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. All of these cycles have significant impacts top top ecosystem structure and function. Together human tasks have caused major disturbances to this cycles, their study and modeling is particularly important. Ecosystems have been damaged through a variety of human activities that change the herbal biogeochemical cycles because of pollution, oil spills, and events causing worldwide climate change. The wellness of the biosphere relies on knowledge these cycles and how to defend the atmosphere from irreversible damage.