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Imbalance in Earth’s Biogeochemical Cycles

Scientists are currently meeting at the 94th annual Ecological Society of America (ESA) symposium in New Mexico to discuss, among other topics, the massive upset of the natural biogeochemical cycles of the Earth System.

Biogeochemical cycling refers to the complex series of process by which chemical elements and compounds move between different sources and sinks. This interdisciplinary study involves transitions between atmospheric gases, soils, living organisms, oceans, and geological formations.

The global pressure of the human population is significantly altering the natural course of many of the Earth System’s biogeochemical cycles, throwing important nutrients and compounds out of balance with the usual climatic and biological feedback mechanisms. These imbalances contribute to marine dead zones, climate change, ocean acidification, and many other environmental problems.

Jon Cole, a biogeochemist from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies claims, “Knowledge about coupled biogeochemical cycles is “essential to addressing a range of human impacts. It will shed light on questions such as the success of wetland restoration and the status of aquatic food webs. The special CBC conference sessions at ESA will explore future research needs in environmental chemistry, with a focus on how global climate change may impact various habitats.”


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