The work cycle of biological carbon

This animation shows the work cycle of biological carbon, driven by solar energy through photosynthesis. It is an energy graph, not a landscape.

The vertical position of your mouse pointer relative to the animation controls the rate of decay of complex carbon into simple carbon dioxide. Higher mouse positions mean that biological carbon stays longer in higher energy states. The spontaneous process of respiration or oxidation is slowed, and there is less low-energy carbon dioxide (in the atmosphere). Lower mouse positions will discourage the retention of carbon in complex compounds, as in biomass or organic matter, which means less potential energy to do work, less organic matter to retain and slow down water cycling, less biological productivity, and more atmospheric carbon.

Subtle shifts have significant long-term effects. Wait for the behavior of various positions to emerge.

Lower-energy states (lower mouse positions) are characteristic of degraded or desertified landscapes, where meager productivity is quickly oxidized, and the buildup of biomass does not occur. Low-carbon landscapes mean higher atmospheric carbon, and vice versa. Higher energy states (higher mouse positions) are characteristic of more productive landscapes, where there is abundance of organic matter.