You know that oxygen is a must for life. Oxygen gas makes up about 30% of the earth and about 21% of the air in the earth’s atmosphere. It is also the most common element of the human body. It makes up about 65% of the mass of the human body.
What is the oxygen cycle?
Oxygen is constantly used and created by different processes on planet Earth. All these processes together make up the oxygen cycle. The oxygen cycle is thus a biogeochemical cycle that describes the movement of oxygen within the earth’s three main reservoirs – the lithosphere (land), the hydrosphere (water), and the atmosphere (air), which make up the earth’s biosphere.
We now know that the oxygen cycle is a process by which oxygen is generated and used. What are these processes?
Oxygen is Produced by :
1. Plants – Plants produce oxygen via photosynthesis.
2. Sunlight – Some oxygen is produced when sunlight reacts with water vapour in the atmosphere.
Oxygen is used up in :
- Respiration – All organisms use oxygen for respiration.
- Decomposing – When plants and animals die, they decompose. This process uses up oxygen and releases carbon di oxide into the air.
- Rusting – Also called oxidation, this process causes metals to rust. Also a process which uses up oxygen.
- Combustion – The process by which fire is generated also requires oxygen, along with heat and fuel. This process also uses up oxygen and releases carbon di oxide into the atmosphere.
How the Oxygen Cycle takes place
It starts, of course, with plants and photosynthesis.
1. Photosynthesis :–
- During the day, plants take energy from the sun, carbon di oxide from the air, and water from the soil to make their food. Their food is simple – glucose. This process is called photosynthesis. Oxygen is released into the air as a by-product of photosynthesis.
- During the night, plants take in oxygen and release carbon di oxide, to maintain their metabolism. Which is why it is not a good idea to sleep under trees at night.
2. Respiration :–
- The oxygen that is released by plants is used by humans, animals, and other organisms for respiration, i.e. breathing. We use oxygen to break down simple sugars and generate energy to sustain ourselves. During respiration, organisms take in oxygen and release carbon di oxide into the air.
3. Repeat :–
- This carbon di oxide is again, taken up by plants, for photosynthesis.
- Thus, we see that our life force is generated chiefly by plants. Which is why it is super important to preserve plant life on earth.
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