Biogeochemical cycles

What are biogeochemical cycles?

Biogeochemical cycles are called the connection and movements that exist between living and non-living elements in order for energy to flow through ecosystems.

The word biogeochemical is made up of terms that derive from the Greek: bio which means "life", and geo, which indicates "land". Therefore, biogeochemical is a term that indicates the cyclical movements of the biological elements vital for life. Geological because they occur in the earth and the atmosphere, and chemical because they are natural elements.

The most important biogeochemical cycles are the hydrological cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle, the oxygen cycle, the sulfur cycle, and the phosphorus cycle.

In nature there are resources that are limited, so they must be recycled to prevent them from being depleted and life on Earth from disappearing.

For this reason, it is necessary that these cycles happen so that when a living organism dies, the elements or chemical substances that are generated during its decomposition can be used and deposited in the earth so that later other organisms can take advantage of them.

Consequently, biogeochemical cycles are very important for the development and continuation of life on the planet.

However, human activity can intervene, for different reasons, in these cycles, and accelerate or delay the use of these resources.

It should be noted that biogeochemical cycles are carried out thanks to the energy that flows openly in the ecosystem, and that is obtained directly or indirectly from the sun.

Types of biogeochemical cycles

As mentioned above, the most important biogeochemical cycles are six. Below its description.

Hydrological or water cycle

The hydrological cycle or water cycle is called the set of processes through which water circulates and is transformed on Earth.

Water changes state according to the process it is in, going from vapor to liquid, and from liquid to solid. It is one of the few elements that has this capacity and that is vital for the development and maintenance of life on the planet.

See also Water cycle (with pictures).

Cycle of nitrogen

The nitrogen cycle is a biological and abiotic process through which this chemical element can be supplied to living beings (since nitrogen in its pure state cannot be used), in order for them to absorb it from water, air or land .

It is a cycle that takes place in a short time and is gaseous.

See also Nitrogen cycle.

Carbon cycle

Carbon is an element that is present in the atmosphere, the oceans and on the earth, and its cycle is vital so that this element can circulate through the earth, the oceans and the atmosphere in order to be used by beings alive.

This cycle is one of the most important for the balance of the biosphere to be preserved, as it includes physical, chemical and biological processes.

You also see the Carbon cycle.

Sulfur cycle

This biogeochemical cycle is considered one of the most complex because sulfur, during this process, must go through different oxidation states when combined with oxygen.

In this cycle, sulfur is incorporated into vegetables in order to reach primary consumers. On the other hand, it can enter the atmosphere as sulfur dioxide and into the water once the sulfuric acid has formed, which produces acid rain.

See also Sulfur cycle.

Oxygen cycle

The oxygen cycle represents the process and the reactions that this element goes through in order to circulate in the earth's atmosphere. It is a complex cycle because it is an element that is used and released by living beings through different chemical processes.

Oxygen (O2) in a gaseous state and as carbon gas (CO2) is used in the respiration of animals and plants. For their part, animals and humans continually use and recycle oxygen to be able to breathe and, therefore, live.

See also Oxygen cycle.

Phosphorus cycle

It is a very important cycle due to the low amount of phosphorus that exists, compared to other elements. This is a sedimentary cycle and, therefore, slower, because this element circulates mainly in the soil and waters.

Phosphorus is a fundamental element for the growth of ecosystems, especially in the aquatic one.

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