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The Carbon Cycle Since the industrial revolution humans have greatly increased the quantity of carbon dioxide found in the Earths atmosphere and oceans Atmospheric levels have increased by over 30 from about 275 parts per million ppm in the early 1700s to just over 365 PPM today Scientists estimate that future atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide could reach an amount between 450 to 600 PPM by the year 2100 The major sources of this gas due to human activities include fossil fuel combustion and the modification of natural plant cover found in grassland woodland and forested ecosystems Emissions from fossil fuel combustion account for about 65 of the additional carbon dioxide currently found in the Earths atmosphere The other 35 is derived from deforestation and the conversion of natural ecosystems into agricultural systems Researchers have shown that natural ecosystems can store between 20 to 100 times more carbon dioxide than agricultural land-use types The Nitrogen Cycle The activities of humans have severely altered the nitrogen cycle Some of the major processes involved in this alteration include The application of nitrogen fertilizers to crops has caused increased rates of denitrification and leaching of nitrate into groundwater The additional nitrogen entering the groundwater system eventually flows into streams rivers lakes and estuaries In these systems the added nitrogen can lead to eutrophication Increased deposition of nitrogen from atmospheric sources because of fossil fuel combustion and forest burning Both of these processes release a variety of solid forms of nitrogen through combustion Livestock ranching Livestock release a large amounts of ammonia into the environment from their wastes This nitrogen enters the soil system and then the hydrologic system through leaching groundwater flow and runoff Sewage waste and septic tank leaching The Hydrologic Cycle The earths water supply remains constant but man is capable of altering the cycle of that fixed supply Population increases rising living standards and industrial and
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