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The carbon cycle describes the movement and storage of carbon on earth. Knowledge of the carbon cycle helps us to understand the impacts of anthropogenic additions of carbon to the atmosphere on the storage and movement of carbon.

Places where carbon is stored are called pools or reservoirs. The five pools of carbon are sedimentary rock, terrestrial soils, the atmosphere, land vegetation, and oceans.

By far, the largest amount of carbon is buried in sedimentary rock, and this quantity is considered inactive in the carbon cycle. The active (or surface) pools constitute less than 1 percent of the carbon on earth, and they contain 40 × 1018 g C. Within this active carbon, the oceans constitute the largest pool (38,000 × 1015 g C, or 38,000 gigatons ...

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