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Biogeochemical Cycles

  • By: Brenden E. McNeil
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Biogeochemistry is the chemistry of Earth's surface. Or, in other words, it is physical geography through the lens of chemistry. Akin to the study of water moving through the hydrologic cycle, a biogeochemical cycle examines how a particular chemical element moves through the physical geographic spheres (i.e., the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere). Viewed from the integrative perspective of the biosphere, this entry explores several of the major biogeochemical cycles, with a special emphasis on how these cycles affect—and are affected by—human society.

Biosphere and Biogeochemical Cycles

During the past 3.5 billion years of Earth's history, the biosphere has come to play an increasingly dominant role in shaping the chemistry of Earth's surface, making the study of Earth surface chemistry inherently the study of biogeochemistry. Indeed, as ...

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