Carbon Budget

Elizabeth Borneman

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The global carbon budget is the amount of carbon gained and lost in the natural and manmade workings of the world. The global carbon budget is part of the greater carbon cycle and the ways in which the Earth’s reservoirs of carbon are added to and subtracted from. The global carbon budget can be directly traced to the increases and decreases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientists who are tracking carbon usage around the world analyze data taken from the atmosphere, regional carbon emissions, carbon dioxide emissions from land usage, carbon emissions from man-made projects in many forms (including transportation and other consumption-based emissions). Different regions of the world can be analyzed for their individual carbon emissions as well as naturally occurring sources of carbon dioxide.

The study of the carbon budget is essential for understanding how carbon dioxide emissions, both natural and manmade, are contributing to the changes in the Earth’s environment in the present day. Understanding Earth’s carbon history is vital to being able to understand the future and how much mankind is truly affecting the carbon levels of Earth in a variety of forms.

Representation of the contemporary global carbon cycle. Changes are measured in gigatons or carbon per year (GtC/y). Numbers in parentheses refer to stored carbon pools. Red indicates carbon from human emissions. Humans contribute a net increase of 4 GtC/y to atmospheric carbon. Source: US Department of Energy, 2008.
Representation of the contemporary global carbon cycle. Changes are measured in gigatons or carbon per year (GtC/y). Numbers in parentheses refer to stored carbon pools. Red indicates carbon from human emissions. Humans contribute a net increase of 4 GtC/y to atmospheric carbon. Source: US Department of Energy, 2008, public domain.  

References

Global Carbon Budget. 2014. Global Carbon Budget Media Summary Highlight. Web access 5 January, 2015. http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/14/hl-compact.htm

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About the author
Elizabeth Borneman
My name is Elizabeth Borneman and I am a freelance writer, reader, and coffee drinker. I live on a small island in Alaska, which gives me plenty of time to fish, hike, kayak, and be inspired by nature. I enjoy writing about the natural world and find lots of ways to flex my creative muscles on the beach, in the forest, or down at the local coffee shop.

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