Biogeochemical Cycles By: Julie Carini

The Water Cycle

The Water Cycle is a process at which water moves throughout our ecosystem. There are several processes that take place such as evaporation, precipitation, condensation, transpiration and even surface runoffs. When it rains the water falls out of the clouds. This is called precipitation. When the water falls it can fall into bodies of water on land and even into surface runoffs. A surface runoff is defined as a pathway for water to flow into a larger body of water. When the water flows into a larger body of water such as and ocean it can evaporate (a liquid turning into a gas). Condensation, the process of gas changing into a liquid) happens high in the atmosphere around the clouds. Transpiration is also present in the water cycle. Transpiration is the process by which water vapor is released into the air as a gas. After transpiration occurs condensation follows creating clouds. The more dense the clouds gets the more likely it is to rain. When it rains (precipitates) the process starts over again. In the picture below it can be seen how the water moves throughout the water cycle. The arrows show in which direction the water goes and the processes in which the water goes through. In the water cycle there are no chemical reactions involved. Inorganic materials in the water cycle include things such as water. Everything in the water cycle is inorganic. Human interactions can happen and can affect the water cycle. When humans cut down trees it can cut the process of transpiration. The more trees that are cut down the less that transpiration can occur. People can also help cause pollution. Things such as trash, harmful gasses, and even un-purified water can make the water cycle unclean.

The Phosphorous Cycle

The Phosphorous Cycle is the process in which phosphorous moves throughout the our ecosystem. "Phosphorus moves in a cycle through rocks, water, soil and sediments and organisms" (The Phosphorous Cycle). Rain and weathering can help start the Phosphorous Cycle. As this happens it allows for rocks and minerals to slowly release phosphate ions. As the phosphate ions move they move into the ground and into the soil. Once in the soil plants can intake inorganic phosphate while they are growing. When animals go to eat they consume phosphate from the plants. When the plant or animal dies and or decays the phosphates that were once in them can return to the soil. Plants bacteria and fungi can break down organic matter into inorganic forms of phosphorus. This process is better known as mineralization (The Phosphorous Cycle). Phosphates within the soil can also enter into the water. Over time the phosphates in the water can create rocks and minerals. Chemical reactions are involved in this cycle. As the animals eat the plants that contain phosphates the animals process the food and transform the phosphate eaten into DNA. Inorganic material that is in the phosphorous cycle include the water. Organic material includes the bacteria and fungi and at which processes they go through. The process of the phosphorus cycle is shown below in the diagram as well as the direction the processes go. Human interactions can affect the phosphorus cycle. For example, fields can be over fertilized by humans. When over fertilized it causes more plants to grow. The more plants that grow the more phosphate finds its way into the cycle. Excess phosphate from the plants can runoff into the water and lead to eutrophication. Eutrophication is the process by which excess plants are grown in rivers, lakes and oceans. When growing in these bodies of water they take the oxygen that other organisms need to have in order to survive.

The Nitrogen Cycle

The Nitrogen Cycle is the process in which nitrogen its components are distributed and transferred throughout the ecosystem. The first step of the nitrogen cycle is nitrogen fixation. This is the process at which nitrogen gas is converted into ammonia. Other organisms such as bacteria and plants convert the ammonia to create nitrites and nitrates. These are then used by plants to help create amino acids then followed by proteins. Plants are a source of food for the animals. When the animals eat the plants they are able to convert the amino acids into whatever proteins they need. Bacteria and feces are then released from the animals and deposited back into the soil (The Nitrogen Cycle). Chemical reactions that occur are nitrogen fixation, ammonification, nitrification and denitrification. Inorganic compounds in the nitrogen cycle include water. Organic compounds in the nitrogen cycle include feces and bacteria from the plants and animals. Humans intervene with the nitrogen cycle today. By cutting down more wetlands, grasslands, and forests, it allows for more nitrates to be released. By adding more nitrates it can also cause more algae to grow. If more algae grows in water environments then it takes the oxygen away from the marine life in the water. The animals will then not have oxygen to breathe. The more plants there are the higher the temperature rises.

The Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle shows how carbon is moved throughout the ecosystem. Carbon dioxide enters the environment from the respiration of animals/humans and sometimes even combustion. The carbon dioxide then released but absorbed by plants and producers. These producers then send out oxygen. When plants and animals die they decay. The carbon dioxide is then released into the soil. Shortly after, some of the carbon dioxide will be released back into the atmosphere. The sun helps with the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process in which plants are able to create their own food. In the diagram below it can be seen how the carbon cycle flows. Chemical reactions that occur in the carbon cycle include cellular respiration (glucose--> carbon dioxide) and photosynthesis (carbon dioxide--> glucose). Inorganic materials in the carbon cycle include carbon dioxide and water. Organic materials in the carbon cycle include glucose. Human interactions can lead to an excessive amount of carbon dioxide into the air. If trees and forests are being cut down more carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere. Because the amount of trees and plants will be far less there will be nothing to help take in the carbon dioxide.



Created with images by stokpic - "hands world map"

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