Showing posts from April 16, 2017

How does the chemistry of carbon relate to global warming?

A carbon atom has a nucleus like most atoms, and inside the nucleus contains protons and neutrons. Around the nucleus, is the inner shell. The inner shell has 2 electrons. That’s all that shell of the carbon atom wants/needs. On the outer shell/cloud are 4 valence electrons. What makes an electron valence is that it’s on the outside shell/cloud. The carbon atom wants 4 more valence electrons, therefore it means it has 4 open “hands.” Its good to keep in mind that every atom wants 8 valence electrons, so much to the point of stealing another atom’s electron. The oxygen atom has 6 valence electrons and wants 8. Therefore has 2 hands open. Carbon dioxide (CO2) results when two oxygen atoms share valence electrons with a single carbon atom. Carbon dioxide is a gas at normal temperatures and when biological processes create carbon dioxide, the gas escapes to the atmosphere. Methane (CH4) is a gas that is made up of 4 hydrogen atoms sharing valence electrons with one carbon atom. Methane is…

How is topsoil both a "carbon source" and a "carbon sink"?

Topsoil can be a carbon “source” when tilled.  Tilling breaks up and aerates the topsoil and releases the carbon within into the atmosphere.  Tilling also exposes the soil to direct sunlight, which dries it out and depletes it of all its nutrients, effectively killing it.  “Bare soil is dying soil”.
Topsoil can be a carbon “sink” when given access to the key nutrients it needs (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, silicon, and carbon among others) and left untilled.  When a field is left untilled it uses the organic matter to fuel the plants to take in more and more carbon.  Something else that helps maximize carbon intake among soil is mob grazing.  Mob grazing is when a large herd or animals grazes an entire field, defecates, and then leaves. The herd tramples the grass, making it impossible for another coming herd to eat for a while, giving the grass time to recover. Finally the manure provides organic matter for the soil to stay healthy.  The use of cover cr…

How is the ocean both a "carbon sink" and a "carbon source"?

One of the things related to the oceans that is making climate change worse is the albedo effect, especially at the polar regions. What happens is that the polar ice caps usually reflect the sunlight and re-cool itself overnight when it isn't as hot, and there is no sunlight. Now that it is beginning to warm up, the ocean water starts to show. The ocean is a very dark color compared to ice and snow, therefore it absorbs the sun and then at night, releases the heat, therefore the ice caps are melting faster than ever. This also cause the sea level to rise. - Emily

Oceans absorb more than a quarter of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) that is put into the air by humans, making it the largest active carbon sink. It was also found that in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, (1991-2000) there was a higher respiration rate than in photosynthesis, meaning that the ocean was releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, and this happens in many oceans making i…