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Module Five Notes Lesson Goals Explain the different components of the marine and terrestrial carbon cycle. The Terrestrial Carbon Cycle Photosynthesis Originated 3 billion years ago and has become one of the most important processes on Earth, helping to make our planet habitable, in stark contrast to the other known planets. Overview, Plants capture light energy and use it to split water molecules and then combine the products with Carbon Dioxide to make Carbohydrates, which are used for fuel and construction of plants; Oxygen is merely a byproduct. o 6CO2 + 6H2O -> C6H12O6 + 6O2 o Carbon Dioxide + Water -> Sugar + Oxygen The process takes place in the chloroplasts located in the interior of leaves. Here, chlorophyll absorbs solar energy in the red and blue parts of the spectrum. This energy is used to split a water molecule into Hydrogen and Oxygen; in the process, the plants gain chemical energy that is used in a companion process that converts Carbon Dioxide into carbohydrates represented by C6H12O6 in the above equation. The rate of consumption of CO2 by photosynthesis is mainly a function of water availability, temperature, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and key nutrients such as Nitrogen. As a general rule, the rates of metabolic processes increase with temperature, but there is usually an upper limit where the high temperatures begin to destroy important enzymes, or otherwise inhibit life functions. This is beneficial to plants because with the greater concentration of CO2, they do not have to open their stomata very far, since they lose water doing so, this makes them more efficient as a whole. Interestingly, the photosynthesis process does have a limit and cannot increase forever. Plant Respiration Photosynthesis is like “making fuel”, if the fuel was Carbohydrates, and plant respiration can be thought of as the process of burning that fuel – using it for maintenance and growth. Litter Fall Dead materials enter the soil in two ways, it falls onto the surface as litter, and is contributed below the service from roots. The Carbon Flow of litter fall is roughly the difference between photosynthetic uptake of Carbon and the return of Carbon through plant respiration.
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