The "missing" carbon

Part of Hall of Planet Earth.

The "Missing" Carbon AMNH/R.Mickens

The amount of man-made carbon released into the atmosphere can be determined by knowing the quantities of fossil fuels burned. But the atmosphere has less carbon than expected. Growth of some land plants is stimulated by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so plants may remove more carbon than estimated. Some of the “missing” carbon may also be removed from the atmosphere by absorption of carbon dioxide into the ocean, although the amount is unknown. The carbon cycle is so complex that it is not fully understood.