Carbon cycle: Carbon sources
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Any process that releases carbon into the atmosphere is known as a carbon source. There are large carbon sources both in the oceans and on land. Examples include the outgassing of carbon dioxide from the oceans and the decomposition of dead organic matter on land. Natural carbon sources don’t change the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere, because over timescales of decades to centuries the amount of carbon added to the atmosphere by natural sources is balanced out by the amount absorbed from the atmosphere by natural sinks.
What happens to the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels? This is the question Dr Parv Suntharalingam is trying to answer. Combining her knowledge in physics, chemistry, biology and maths, Parv uses computer models to simulate how carbon moves around the Earth system. 'Using these models gives us a more detailed understanding of how future emissions may be absorbed by the land and oceans,' says Parv. Although Parv is based at the UEA, the data used in these models are based on measurements taken from around the world. Parv’s very first ocean sampling cruise took her from Perth to Sri Lanka, where she was born.