NED GARDINER, NOAA / NASA / UMT / OSU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NED GARDINER, NOAA / NASA / UMT / OSU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Global carbon cycle. Captioned sequences and pictures showing and explaining the seasonal variation in global carbon absorption due to plant growth, and human impact on this. The first sequence shows the Earth's continents and oceans, and the equator. Pictures show examples of plants on land (trees) and in the oceans (phytoplankton) that absorb carbon as they grow. The next sequence explains the colours, which indicate carbon absorption due to plant growth (dark green for more absorption and light green for less) and carbon release (orange) when plant growth stops. The third sequence shows the Earth orbiting the Sun, explaining how the axial tilt gives rise to winter and summer in the northern and southern hemispheres, which in turn affects plant growth. The final sequence, with monthly time stamps, shows carbon absorption cycling in a natural seasonal balance between the hemispheres over the period from December 2005 to January 2010. Absorption increases in the summer and decreases in the winter. This carbon cycle has an important effect on the climate, as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps the Sun's heat. The pictures towards the end of this sequence show examples of human impact (factories, traffic, cities) that affect this carbon balance, leading to global warming. The data for this sequence was obtained from the MODIS (Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) sensors on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. For this sequence without captions and pictures, see K003/2424.
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