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Assess the extent to which there are inter relationships between processes in the water cycle and factors driving change in the carbon cycle

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Introduction

´╗┐Assess the extent to which there are inter relationships between processes in the water cycle and factors driving change in the carbon cycle The water cycle is the continuous process by which water is circulated throughout the earth and atmosphere by evaporation, condensation, precipitation and transpiration. The carbon cycle is an open system but consisting of key sub systems within. These operate as open systems, exchanging and transferring carbon between them and, in doing so affect conditions for all life on earth. The water and carbon cycles are closely intertwined with each other. Both cycles are essential for life on earth. Processes in the water cycle correspond to changes in the carbon cycle. For example, weathering releases carbon back into the atmosphere but it could not happen without water. The water and carbon cycles are both essential for life. Carbon is a fundamental building block of life as all living things contain carbon. All living things also need water to survive. The water and carbon cycle affect most food chains as they are important during the process of photosynthesis in plants which form the base of many food chains. ...read more.

Middle

This effects the water cycle as these surfaces prevent infiltration which massively increases runoff and the risk of a flood. These causes problems for towns and cities situated on flood plains. For example, Carlisle which often suffers from flooding during storms such as storm Desmond in 2015. Urbanisation also effects the carbon cycle due to increases in urban populations. Every week urban areas grow by roughly 1.3 million people and are home to more than 50% of the world?s population. In 2012, cities were responsible for 47% of carbon emissions. The emissions come from increased energy consumption, less photosynthesis taking place due to the switch from natural vegetation to urban surfaces and cement manufacture for urban dwelling. This results in more carbon being put into the atmosphere. Both these changes occur at the same time and are closely linked. Urban areas are seeing an increasing risk of flood due to impermeable surfaces combined with more intense storms as a result of climate change. A third human factor that links the water and carbon cycle is farming practises. The water cycle is affected as infiltration can be affected by farming practices. ...read more.

Conclusion

Over the last 2.6 million years, global climates have fluctuated considerably between warm and cold periods. These are triggered by Milankovitch cycles when every 100,000 years the earth's orbit becomes more elliptical. Lower temperatures are associated with lower CO2 levels and vice versa. For example, during cold periods carbon stored as biomass would have become incorporated into permafrost resulting in less atmospheric CO2. Also, during cold periods oceans are more saline. This means they take in greater amounts of CO2 via the oceanic pump, atmospheric carbon stores are reduced. However, in cold periods there is more chemical weathering. So as a result, more CO2 is taken in from the atmosphere. Both these changes occur at the same time and are closely linked. As deglaciation occurs, sea levels rise and result in a corresponding growth in the size of the atmospheric carbon stores. To conclude, both cycles are linked closely. The changes to the water cycle, often caused by human activity, result in significant changes to the carbon cycle. As human activity continues to cause these changes, it can be expected that the continued growth of the atmospheric carbon store continues beyond 400ppm, continuing the changes to the carbon cycle discussed in this essay. ...read more.

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