Understanding Cycles of Oxygen, Water, and Carbon

The Oxygen Cycle

Oxygen Cycle / Reservoirs Source

Oxygen Cycle / Reservoirs
Source

Notice that most of the Earth’s oxygen is tied up in the lithosphere — planetary rock. Atmospheric levels of oxygen can rise and fall, naturally, and have done so over billions of years.

Major reservoirs involved in the oxygen cycle

Reservoir Capacity
(kg O2)
Flux in/out
(kg O2 per year)
Residence time
(years)
Atmosphere 1.4×1018 3×1014 4500
Biosphere 1.6×1016 3×1014 50
Lithosphere 2.9×1020 6×1011 500000000

And don’t forget all the oxygen that is tied up in planetary water.

The Global Water Cycle

Earth’s global water cycle regulates global temperatures and atmospheric/oceanic energy storage and movement. The sun has heated up considerably over the past few billion years, but Earth’s temperature has remained remarkably constant — all things considered. You can thank the global hydrologic cycle for that.

Despite a substantial increase in the power of the sun over billions of years the temperature of the Earth has remained remarkably stable. My proposition is that the reason for that is the existence of water in liquid form in the oceans combined with a relatively stable total atmospheric density. If the power input from the sun changes then the effect is simply to speed up or slow down the hydrological cycle.

An appropriate analogy is a pan of boiling water. However much the power input increases the boiling point remains at 100C. The speed of boiling however does change in response to the level of power input. The boiling point only changes if the density of the air above and thus the pressure on the water surface changes. In the case of the Earth’s atmosphere a change in solar input is met with a change in evaporation rates and thus the speed of the whole hydrological cycle keeping the overall temperature stable despite a change in solar power input.

A change in the speed of the entire hydrological cycle does have a climate effect but as we shall see on timescales relevant to human existence it is too small to measure in the face of internal system variability from other causes. __ http://www.newclimatemodel.com/new-climate-model/

Energy from the sun is cyclic. As energy inflow increases, massive amounts of energy are moved via atmospheric phenomena, and even more via ocean currents and ocean oscillations. As solar inflow declines, ocean oscillations reverse, currents alter, more clouds form, and natural global climate cycles become more susceptible to long term orbital cycles, including Milankovitch cycles (among others) — often leading to widespread glaciation.

 The Earth as a Heat Engine. The equatorial Hadley Cells provide the power for the system. Over the tropics, the sun (orange arrows) is strongest because it hits the earth most squarely. The length of the orange arrows shows relative sun strength. Warm dry air descends at about 30N and 30S, forming the great desert belts that circle the globe. Heat is transported by a combination of the ocean and the atmosphere to the poles. At the poles, the heat is radiated to space. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/


The Earth as a Heat Engine. The equatorial Hadley Cells provide the power for the system. Over the tropics, the sun (orange arrows) is strongest because it hits the earth most squarely. The length of the orange arrows shows relative sun strength. Warm dry air descends at about 30N and 30S, forming the great desert belts that circle the globe. Heat is transported by a combination of the ocean and the atmosphere to the poles. At the poles, the heat is radiated to space.
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/

Where the Water Is

Table 8b-1: Inventory of water at the Earth’s surface.

Reservoir
Volume (cubic km x 1,000,000)
Percent of Total
Oceans
1370
97.25
Ice Caps and Glaciers
29
2.05
Groundwater
9.5
0.68
Lakes
0.125
0.01
Soil Moisture
0.065
0.005
Atmosphere
0.013
0.001
Streams and Rivers
0.0017
0.0001
Biosphere
0.0006
0.00004

__ Source

Global Carbon Cycle

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is quickly dissolved in oceans and converted to calcium carbonate, which is incorported into sediments, becoming limestone, dolomite, and other rock forms. Observe from the tables below how much carbon is sequestered in rock, compared with the much smaller amount in oceans, and the very tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Table 9r-1: Estimated major stores of carbon on the Earth.

Sink
Amount in Billions of Metric Tons
Atmosphere
578 (as of 1700) – 766 (as of 1999)
Soil Organic Matter
1500 to 1600
Ocean
38,000 to 40,000
Marine Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks
66,000,000 to 100,000,000
Terrestrial Plants
540 to 610
Fossil Fuel Deposits
4000

___ sourceThere is very little carbon in the atmosphere, compared the oceans. And compared to the lithosphere, there is very little carbon in the oceans. The Earth has evolved very efficient means to move carbon out of the atmosphere, into the oceans and soil, and especially into the rocks.

Historical CO2 Levels Source

Historical CO2 Levels
“There is no correlation whatsoever between carbon dioxide concentration and the temperature at the earth’s surface over geological time.”

Source

Notice how efficiently the evolving biosphere learned to move atmospheric CO2 out of the air and into the biosphere and lithosphere for very long term sequestration. Without ample CO2, plant life cannot exist. As CO2 levels rise, the biosphere of land and ocean automatically adjusts to sequestre CO2 in the biosphere and sedimentary lithosphere.

More from Wikipedia “Carbon Cycle”, including another set of estimates of carbon reservoir distribution.

Estimates from the above tables are likely to be adjusted, as our current infantile knowledge of the world grows and matures via more thorough experiment and exploration. Example: New knowledge about kerogens, an important reservoir of carbon in the planetary crust.

Study and Learn — Don’t Panic

Consumers of popular and science news are at the mercy of professional panic mongers and opportunists — unless they take the time to understand the underpinnings of the world around them. Political powers in the western world have become dominated by unproven apocalyptic theories, and are rushing to enforce unwise economic and energy policies based upon these wild, unproven hypotheses — as if they were proven fact. And no wonder, since many wealthy and highly placed individuals stand to profit handsomely from the rash implementation of these ultimately disastrous policies.

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2 Responses to Understanding Cycles of Oxygen, Water, and Carbon

  1. RobM says:

    Thanks for this post. Well done sir!

  2. With the thoughts you'd be thinkin says:

    Suggesting a post, based on your discussions of renewables. The Australian state of South Australia is in a state wide blackout due to storms severing the connection to the neighbouring state of Victoria’s power grid. South Australia has gone into renewables the most of the Australian states and has been suffering highly variable procing in recent months.

    Before the storm:
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/renewable-energy-puts-strain-on-system/news-story/8ac8eec301687970a164de36ec42c885
    http://www.afr.com/news/politics/dont-blame-sa-power-shock-on-renewables-grattan-institute-says-20160925-grnw1i

    Current updates:
    http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-28/south-australia-without-power-live-blog/7885972?pfmredir=sm

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