Discuss the biogeochemical cycles that water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfurExplain exactly how human tasks have influenced these cycles and the result potential after-effects for Earth

Energy flows directionally with ecosystems, start as sunshine (or not natural molecules for chemoautotrophs) and also leaving as heat during the transfers in between trophic levels. Quite than flowing v an ecosystem, the issue that provides up life organisms is conserved and recycled. The six many common elements associated through organic molecules—carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and also sulfur—take a variety of chemistry 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 the subduction of the continent plates, every play a role in the to ride bicycle of elements on Earth. Since geology and chemistry have major roles in the research of this process, the recycling of not natural matter in between living organisms and also their nonliving atmosphere is dubbed a biogeochemical cycle.

You are watching: Which is a way that geological processes affect nutrient cycling

Water, which has hydrogen and oxygen, is important to all living processes. The hydrosphere is the area of earth where water movement and storage occurs: together liquid water ~ above the surface ar (rivers, lakes, oceans) and beneath the surface (groundwater) or ice, (polar ice cream caps and glaciers), and also as water vapor in the atmosphere. Carbon is found in all organic macromolecules and is vital constituent that fossil fuels. Nitrogen is a major component of our nucleic acids and also proteins and also is an important to human agriculture. Phosphorus, a major component of main point acids, is among the main ingredients (along with nitrogen) in man-made fertilizers provided in agriculture, i beg your pardon has eco-friendly impacts top top our surface ar water. Sulfur, an essential to the three-dimensional urgent of protein (as in disulfide binding), is released right into the environment by the burning of fossil fuels.

The cycling of these elements is interconnected. Because that example, the motion of water is critical for the leaching of nitrogen and phosphate into rivers, lakes, and also oceans. The ocean is additionally a significant reservoir because that carbon. Thus, mineral nutrients space cycled, either quickly or slowly, v the whole biosphere between the biotic and also abiotic world and also from one living organism come another.

The Water Cycle

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

). That the staying water, 99 percent is locked as underground water or ice. Thus, less than one percent of fresh water is current in lakes and also rivers. Numerous living things are dependent top top this tiny amount of surface fresh water supply, a lack of which have the right to have important impacts on ecosystem dynamics. Humans, the course, have developed technologies to boost water availability, such as digging wells come harvest groundwater, save rainwater, and using desalination to obtain drinkable water from the ocean. Return this pursuit of drinkable water has actually been ongoing throughout human being history, the it is provided of fresh water continues to be a significant issue in modern-day times.

Figure 2: Water from the land and also oceans start the environment by evaporation or sublimation, where it condenses right into clouds and falls together rain or snow. Precipitated water may get in freshwater bodies or infiltrate the soil. The cycle is complete when surface or underground water reenters the ocean. (credit: modification of work by man M. Evans and also Howard Perlman, USGS)The Carbon Cycle

Carbon is the 4th most abundant aspect in living organisms. Carbon is existing in all organic molecules, and also its duty in the structure of macromolecules is of primary importance to life organisms. Carbon compounds contain energy, and many of this compounds native plants and also algae have remained stored as fossilized carbon, which humans use as fuel. Because the 1800s, the usage of fossil fuels has accelerated. As an international demand for Earth’s minimal fossil fuel supplies has risen because the start of the industrial Revolution, the quantity of carbon dioxide in our setting has boosted as the fuels are burned. This boost in carbon dioxide has been linked with climate adjust and is a major environmental issue worldwide.

The carbon bike is most easily studied as 2 interconnected subcycles: one handling rapid carbon exchange among living organisms and also the other managing the permanent cycling that carbon with geologic processes. The entire carbon bicycle is presented in


Figure 4: Nitrogen start the living human being from the atmosphere through nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This nitrogen and nitrogenous rubbish from pets is climate processed ago into gas nitrogen by floor bacteria, which also supply terrestrial food webs v the organic nitrogen they need. (credit: alteration of occupational by man M. Evans and also Howard Perlman, USGS)

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

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

Human task can relax nitrogen into the environment by two main means: the burning of fossil fuels, i beg your pardon releases different nitrogen oxides, and by the use of man-made fertilizers (which save nitrogen and also phosphorus compounds) in agriculture, which room then washed into lakes, streams, and also rivers by surface ar runoff. Atmospheric nitrogen (other than N2) is associated with several results on earth ecosystems consisting of the manufacturing of acid rain (as nitric acid, HNO3) and greenhouse gas results (as nitrous oxide, N2O), potentially bring about climate change. A major effect from fertilizer runoff is saltwater and freshwater eutrophication, a procedure whereby nutrient runoff reasons the overgrowth of algae and also a number of consequential problems.

A similar process occurs in the naval nitrogen cycle, where the ammonification, nitrification, and denitrification procedures are perform by maritime bacteria and also archaea. Few of this nitrogen drops to the s floor as sediment, which deserve to then be relocated to floor in geologic time by uplift of earth’s surface, and thereby incorporated into terrestrial rock. Back the movement of nitrogen indigenous rock straight into living systems has actually been traditionally viewed as insignificant contrasted with nitrogen fixed from the atmosphere, a recent study proved that this process may undoubtedly be significant and must be contained in any kind of study the the worldwide nitrogen cycle.1

Phosphorus is vital nutrient for living processes; it is a significant component of main point acids and also phospholipids, and, together calcium phosphate, renders up the supportive contents of ours bones. Phosphorus is regularly the limiting nutrient (necessary because that growth) in aquatic, particularly freshwater, ecosystems.

Phosphorus occurs in nature together the phosphate ion (PO43-). In enhancement to phosphate runoff together a an outcome of human activity, herbal surface runoff occurs once it is leached indigenous phosphate-containing rock by weathering, thus sending phosphates right into rivers, lakes, and also the ocean. This rock has its beginnings in the ocean. Phosphate-containing ocean sediments type primarily native the bodies of ocean organisms and also from your excretions. However, volcanic ash, aerosols, and also mineral dust may also be significant phosphate sources. This sediment climate is relocated to land end geologic time by the uplifting of earth surface. (


Phosphorus is likewise reciprocally exchanged between phosphate dissolved in the ocean and marine organisms. The activity of phosphate from the s to the land and through the floor is very slow, through the mean phosphate ion having an oceanic residence time between 20,000 and also 100,000 years.

Figure 6: Dead zones happen when phosphorus and also nitrogen native fertilizers cause excessive growth of microorganisms, i beg your pardon depletes oxygen and kills fauna. Worldwide, big dead area are discovered in locations of high population density. (credit: Robert Simmon, Jesse Allen, NASA planet Observatory)

A dead region is an area in lakes and also oceans close to the mouths the rivers where large areas are periodically depleted of their normal flora and also fauna; these zones have the right to be caused by eutrophication, oil spills, dumping toxic chemicals, and also other person activities. The number of dead zones has increased for number of years, and much more than 400 that these area were existing as of 2008. Among the worst dead area is turn off the coastline of the United claims in the Gulf of Mexico: fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi River basin created a dead zone of over 8,463square miles. Phosphate and nitrate runoff from fertilizers also negatively influence several lake and also bay ecosystems consisting of the Chesapeake only in the eastern united States.

Chesapeake Bay

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

Sulfur is crucial element for the macromolecules of living things. As part of the amino acid cysteine, that is involved in the development of proteins. As shown in

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

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

). Atmospheric sulfur is discovered in the type of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and as rain falls through the atmosphere, sulfur is liquified in the type of weak sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Sulfur can likewise fall directly from the environment in a procedure called fallout. Also, together sulfur-containing rocks weather, sulfur is released right into the soil. These rocks originate from ocean sediments that are moved to land by the geologic uplifting of s sediments. Terrestrial ecosystems can then exploit these floor sulfates (SO42-), which enter the food web by gift taken increase by tree roots. As soon as these plants decompose and also die, sulfur is released earlier into the setting as hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas.

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

Sulfur start the ocean in runoff native land, indigenous atmospheric fallout, and from underwater geothermal vents. Part ecosystems count on chemoautotrophs making use of sulfur as a organic energy source. This sulfur then supports maritime ecosystems in the form of sulfates.

Human tasks have played a major role in altering the balance the the global sulfur cycle. The burning of huge quantities the fossil fuels, specifically from coal, publication larger amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas right into the atmosphere. As rain falls through this gas, it create the phenomenon recognized as mountain rain, which damages the natural atmosphere by lowering the pH that lakes, for this reason killing plenty of of the resides plants and animals. Mountain rain is corrosive rain caused by rainwater falling come the ground through sulfur dioxide gas, transforming it into weak sulfuric acid, which reasons damage come aquatic ecosystems. Acid rain likewise affects the fabricated environment with the chemical degradation of buildings. Because that example, countless marble monuments, such together the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, have suffered far-ranging damage from mountain rain end the years. This examples present the wide-ranging effects of human tasks on our environment and the difficulties that remain for our future.

See more: Minecraft: What Does The Enchantment Respiration Do, What Does Respiration Do In Minecraft

Section Summary

Mineral nutrients room cycled through ecosystems and their environment. Of specific importance are water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. All of these cycles have major impacts ~ above ecosystem structure and also function. Together human activities have caused major disturbances to these cycles, their study and also modeling is especially important. Ecosystems have actually been damaged by a selection of human tasks that alter the organic biogeochemical cycles due to pollution, oil spills, and events causing an international climate change. The health of the biosphere relies on knowledge these cycles and how to protect the setting from irreversible damage.