Lecture 24: Potential Exam Questions
  1. Describe how fossil fuel burning affects the global carbon cycle.
  • Carbon accumulated in sedimentary rocks and fossil fuels during the carboniferous period, which drew down atmospheric CO2 - this occurred on geologic time scales
  • Fossil fuel burning extracts the carbon that was accumulated in fossil fuels and puts it back into the atmosphere
  1. What is the missing sink?
  • There is an unaccounted for inbalance in the global carbon cycle - it is thought to be residual terrestrial carbon uptake but unknown exactly where this is occurring - it is calculated by the remaining difference between all the other flows
  1. Describe the utility of models for studying global phenomena like climate change. What are 3 types of models?
  • Allows study of longer time scale and larger spatial scale using data from other studies
  • 3 types:
    • Process-based models - mechanistic understanding of cause and effect
    • Individual-based models - build up from smaller scales, e.g. an individual tree to a forest
    • Lumped parameter models - e.g. model photosynthesis as "one big leaf" from entire forest canopy
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