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Blog Reflection: Plumbing the Global Carbon Cycle

This week’s article reflection is on “Plumbing the Global Carbon Cycle” by Cole et al. The main point of the article is to present a budget on the net impact inland waters have on the world’s carbon cycle. For years, carbon measurements were taken from the atmosphere, land and ocean. The only time inland waters were measured, it would be to track the amount of carbon flowing through a riverine pipe. Inland waters have been neglected until now. Inland waters have had double the amount of carbon that was found in ocean and land combined (Cole et al, 2007).

So what does an inland water if it is not the ocean? Well let’s re-cap. Inland waters include lakes, reservoirs, rivers, streams, wetlands and groundwater.  So why haven’t these waters been addressed? Well it has been difficult to measure carbon due to some river, streams and reservoirs are too small to measure, lack of materials and insufficient funding. Globally only carbon from large rivers, lakes reservoirs, etc., have been calculated.

I found it interesting that methane was included in this article. I did not realize that there are lakes and wetlands that emit methane. Methane has been a major cause of global warming. Cole et al suggest that methane be included in this article since there are low amounts of oxygen in aquatic ecosystems. My question was why include methane when this article should primarily focus on why inland waters should be accounted for in the global carbon cycle. Another question is have is how soon can we find out the major impacts inland ecosystem estimations could be made?

Now Figure 1a,b show how the global carbon cycle is viewed (Cole et al, 2007). 1a shows inland ecosystems as a connection between land and ocean with no major influence. 1b shows inland ecosystems as a functional component of the carbon cycle. Inland waters in this picture would store sediment flowing from the land and emit CO2 into the atmosphere. I liked the depiction of inland waters because when I started this class, this was exactly what my view was.

So why should you care? Well first let’s start with what the carbon cycle is. The carbon cycle involves two processes: photosynthesis and respiration. In photosynthesis, plants absorb CO2 into their cells, along with light and energy and break it down (oxidize) the molecules to make sugar, energy and oxygen. This oxygen is released into the atmosphere. We breathe O2 in and oxidize this along with sugar to make CO2 and water. This process is called cellular respiration. After we exhale CO2 then the carbon cycle begins again. Now when carbon levels are able to be measured properly from not only land, ocean and the atmosphere but inlands as well, then we would be able to find ways to better preserve them. Inland ecosystems are able to contribute a lot to the carbon cycle if we gave them a chance.

Some terms that I needed to look up were:
Riverine-adj- of or pertaining to a river; situated or dwelling beside a river (
Peatland-wetlands with a thick water-logged organic soil layer (peat) made up of dead and decaying plant material. Examples: moors, boogs or mires. (
Fluvial-produced by or found in a river (

I found an interesting article called “Review: From multi-scale conceptualization to a classification system” by Bertrand et al. This article was about the need for groundwater-dependant ecosystems. GDEs are important for species that need seasonal or continuous water flow for survival. This article could be linked to the Plumbing global carbon cycle article because there has been insufficient estimations of the amount of carbon there is in groundwater ecosystems.

Here is the link to the article From multi-scale conceptualization to a classification system

Carbon Cartoon

for inland groundwater-dependent ecosystems


Carbon Dioxide in Boreal Surface Waters: A Comparison of Lakes and Streams

Carbon Dioxide in Boreal Surface Waters: A Comparison of Lakes and Streams

This article is related to the Boundless Carbon Cycle article. In this article the authors did research on carbon dioxide levels of inland waters at the Finnish Forest Research Institute. In this article, carbon dioxide levels in the lakes and streams were measured during each season. It was found there is a correlation between temperature and the carbon dioxide levels in the inland waters. During spring and summer there was little change in CO2 levels. However, during autumn the CO2 levels increase significantly enough to be released into the atmosphere.

While I was reading the Boundless Carbon Cycle article, I did not realize that inland waters could also be carbon sinks. These inland waters are important because when carbon is transported to it from land, more carbon would be released into the atmosphere. When more carbon is released into the atmosphere, surrounding trees and/or grasslands would be able to use it, and turn it into energy and oxygen.

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Boundless Carbon Cycle: Reflection

This weeks article talks about where carbon is found most abundant. Now we all know that carbon can be found in bodies of water, on land or in the air that we breath.  However, the authors of this article seek to bring attention to that fact that inland waters, such as wetlands, ponds,or lakes, carry a great amount of carbon. One of the major contributors of this is climate change. One example the article gives is a storm. A rain storm will wash away soil from the land, which has carbon in it, and carry it to inland waters. These carbon deposits will build up over time and cause the carbon sinks in inland waters to increase. Two approaches to this explanation are the top down and bottom up estimation. The top down estimation describes the balance of carbon in our atmosphere. The inverse model is used to calculate past carbon deposits on land and oceans. It is also used to determine the amount of carbon dioxide is in the air. The downside to this method is that the inverse model is unable to calculate the amount of carbon is in inland waters. The bottom up method calculates carbon deposits only on land. Inland waters are again neglected except for reservoirs. Since both estimations neglect to take into account the amount of carbon sinks in inland waters, there is no definitive calculation of carbon on land, in water or in the air. More attention should be focused on using updated methods to calculating carbon sinks in inland waters as well as extreme areas of climate, like Antarctica.

Carbon Cycle in Arctic Tundra

Carbon Cycle in Arctic Tundra

Ozzy Ozone <–Cool Bonus Video


CAP Beginnings

Hello Everyone& Welcome to my new blog!

I have recently joined a course called Carbon Capstone. This course is about learning more about what carbon is and how it affects our environment. I’ve never had to blog for a class before so this is a new and interesting experience for me. I’ve learned about carbon before since I am majoring in Biology. I’ve learned the basics about it. I would like to learn more about why we need it so much and if there is a way we can preserve it. I’m most nervous about teaching a highschool students about it. Why? Speaking in public has always made me a little nervous but I’m sure with a lot of practice it will be more natural for me.

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