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Oxygen Cycle – Production, Stages, Uses, Importance

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The oxygen cycle is a fundamental biogeochemical process that plays a crucial role in maintaining oxygen balance in Earth’s atmosphere and sustaining life on our planet. Similar to other biogeochemical cycles, such as the water cycle and the carbon cycle, the oxygen cycle describes the movement and transformation of oxygen through different components of the Earth’s atmosphere, lithosphere (Earth’s solid outer layer), and biosphere (all living organisms).

What is the Oxygen Cycle?

The oxygen cycle, along with the carbon and nitrogen cycles, is essential for the survival of life on Earth. The oxygen cycle is a biological process that serves to maintain oxygen levels by traveling through the atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. This biogeochemical cycle explains the movement of oxygen gas within the atmosphere, ecosystem, biosphere, and lithosphere.

Both the oxygen cycle and the carbon cycle are interconnected. The atmosphere is the gaseous layer that exists above the Earth’s surface. The lithosphere, along with the earth’s crust, contains the most oxygen on the planet.

Oxygen Cycle Diagram

The labeled diagram of oxygen cycle is given below:


Steps of the Oxygen Cycle

The stages of the oxygen cycle are as follows:

  1. Step 1: Photosynthesis is the process through which all green plants make nourishment. Green plants use carbon dioxide, sun rays, chlorophyll, and water to make glucose during photosynthesis. As a byproduct of this mechanism, plants produce oxygen.
  2. Step 2: It is the process of aerobic organisms taking oxygen from the environment consuming and utilizing oxygen. The body uses oxygen for a variety of metabolic reactions. The availability and utilization of oxygen are required for several biological processes.
  3. Step 3: Aerobic organism that have taken in oxygen are emit carbon dioxide into the environment. The respiration process includes both inhaling oxygen and excretion of carbon dioxide. Any activity performed by aerobes requires the expenditure of energy. As a result of respiration, carbon dioxide is created and released into the atmosphere, while carbon dioxide returns to the atmosphere.

Production of Oxygen

Oxygen is created in nature in two different ways. They are:

  • Photosynthesis: Photosynthesis is the conversion of light energy by phototrophs into chemical energy. Sugars, which are formed from water and carbon dioxide, are used to store chemical energy.
  • Photodissociation: Oxygen molecules are created when sunlight interacts with the water vapor present. As a result of the water cycle, water vapor occurs in the atmosphere. The formation of molecular oxygen can occur as a result of many chemicals depleting the ozone layer.

Uses of Oxygen

Oxygen serves various essential purposes, including:

  1. Humans and other living species utilize oxygen for metabolism and digesting. This mechanism aids in cell formation, glucose breakdown in Glycolysis, Kreb’s Cycle, and biomolecule absorption and synthesis in organisms. Carbon dioxide is exhaled by aerobes as a result of a variety of physiological activities.
  2. It is a natural phenomenon that takes place in nature. Fungi, bacteria, and insects, as well as saprophytes in the soil, break down dead and rotting organic components in the soil. During the process, they use atmospheric oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
  3. It is the process of releasing heat by burning organic matter, wood, or fossil fuels in the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere. The element oxygen is required for combustion. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
  4. The oxidation of metals and alloys induced by extended exposure to ambient oxygen and moisture is known as rusting. When iron is exposed to humid conditions for an extended period of time, iron oxides form around it. During rusting, new compounds form on the metal’s surface.

Importance of Oxygen

Oxygen is crucial for life on Earth, and its importance cannot be overstated. Some key aspects of the importance of oxygen are:

  1. Because humans and animals depend on oxygen for breathing, oxygen is essential for life to exist.
  2. In combustion, oxygen also plays a critical function.
  3. It is vital for respiration.
  4. The majority of the other gases in the air, accounting for more than 21% of the total gases in the air, are physiologically inert nitrogen.
  5. This means that the human body only consumes roughly a quarter of the oxygen it inhales, leaving plenty for emergency breathing. This is why rescue breathing works: it can provide enough oxygen to sustain life in a non-breathing patient.

FAQs on Oxygen Cycle

1. What is the oxygen cycle?


To circulate oxygen atoms around the world, the oxygen cycle employs a number of sophisticated mechanisms.

2. What is a biogeochemical cycle?


A biogeochemical cycle is the movement or rotation of elements through the biotic and abiotic spheres of an ecosystem.

3. Importance of the oxygen cycle?


The major cycles in the biosphere are respiration and photosynthesis. When animals and people breathe, they absorb oxygen for metabolic use and produce carbon dioxide.

4. What are the steps of oxygen cycle?


Following steps are included in oxygen cycle:

  • Photosynthesis
  • Atmospheric Exchange
  • Cellular Respiration
  • Decomposition

5. What is the role of respiration in the oxygen cycle?


The aim of breathing in the oxygen cycle is to release carbon dioxide, which is then taken up by plants for photosynthesis, which releases oxygen for human breathing, which creates carbon dioxide for plants again, and so on.

Last Updated : 08 Sep, 2023
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