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Interactive Labs

Carbon Lab

Lessons > The Carbon Cycle > Step 1

Run the simulation to 2100 with the default settings, and, using your Data Table, record the total carbon levels in each "sink" (terrestrial plants, soil, oil and gas, coal, surface ocean, and deep ocean) at 2050 and 2100. Using the data you collect from the model, answer the following questions while thinking about how the model mimics real-life conditions.

Note: The default setting for the increase in fossil fuel use per year is 1.5%. This rate of increase is also a reasonable projection for the increase in global energy use, as the world's economies continue to ramp up and populations grow (see the Demographics lab).

  1. If only one half of the flora in the world existed in 2100 (perhaps due to deforestation), what do you predict the atmospheric carbon level would be ? How would you change the simulation to reflect this?
  2. What is the relationship between increased carbon in the ocean and increased carbon in the soil? How else might carbon be transferred to soil?
  3. Using the data generated by the simulation, determine the mathematical relationship between the percentage increase in fossil fuel consumption and the increase in atmospheric carbon. Is the relationship linear?

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