Carbon reservoirs are the parts of the Earth that store carbon, such as the ocean. Other examples of carbon reservoirs are the soil, land vegetation and the atmosphere. More so, fossil fuels are large reservoirs.
Carbon moves through nature in a balanced way. It moves from one reservoir to another in a carbon cycle. More so, the amount of carbon naturally released tends to be the same as the amount naturally absorbed. This so-called carbon balance allows life to thrive on the planet. Human activities releasing carbon dioxide disturb this natural process, leading to global warming and climate change.
What are carbon reservoirs?
As mentioned, carbon reservoirs are the parts of Earth that store carbon. There are four parts: the lithosphere, oceans, atmosphere and terrestrial ecosystems. Furthermore, the lithosphere is all the rocks, including fossil fuels. And terrestrial ecosystems refer to organic forms like animals and plants.
Carbon moves in the Earth’s carbon cycles. A typical example is when a plant captures carbon from the atmosphere. Then, the process can continue with an animal eating the plant. Finally, when the animal dies, it decomposes. Creating a cycle as the carbon is released back into the atmosphere.
Carbon reservoirs and climate change
As mentioned above, human interference with carbon reservoirs is causing climate change. The burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and changes in land use cause an abnormal amount of carbon in the atmosphere. For example, extracting fossil fuels and burning them for energy releases carbon rapidly.
NOAA Research shows that today’s levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are the highest in over 3.6 million years. Humans must stop these emissions to stabilise the climate. More so, we will have to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere through various measures since carbon dioxide stays in the air for 300-1000 years. This fact means that the amount released so far will contribute to global warming for centuries to come unless they get removed.
Storing more carbon in other carbon reservoirs
There are many ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in other carbon reservoirs. Expanding and restoring the world’s forests is one way forward. Another way is to increase carbon in agricultural soils, for example, by using cover crops and compost.
Sources: National Geographic, WRI, BiologyDictionary, NOAA