The Global Carbon Cycle

Introduction to how carbon is distributed globally in soils, vegetation, the atmosphere and the ocean, and how carbon moves between these pools.

Chris Swanston
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station

Multiple contributors

Video Length: 
Publication Date: 

This presentation addresses how carbon is distributed around the world, discusses the major carbon stocks and fluxes and reasons why we should care about fossil fuel emissions. It provides an overview of common carbon terms and looks at global carbon distribution in both soil and vegetation. Graphics are used to effectively show global carbon stocks in soil and vegetation, permafrost, deep and surface ocean, atmosphere, past industrial emissions and annual fossil fuel emissions. The presenter makes the point that small changes in big fluxes makes a difference - humans are adding 4 gigatons of CO2 per year to the atmosphere from fossil fuel emissions. Land use changes are also contributing CO2 to the atmosphere, mostly through deforestation. This presentation includes resources from the International Carbon Project, Climate Safety, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, USDA NRCS, and many climate researchers.

You should gain an understanding of:: 

How carbon is distributed around the world.

Main global carbon stocks and fluxes.

How fossil fuel emissions affect the global carbon balance.