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Sharmeen Usman

on 15 January 2014

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The Nitrogen Cycle
Human Impact
What is Nitrogen?
You may have heard of
before. But what exactly is it? Nitrogen is a colourless, tasteless and odorless
that was discovered by the famous physician and chemist Daniel Rutherford. This gas is abundant in the
. Did you know that 78% of the air you breathe consists of nitrogen?
Where Can You Find Nitrogen?
As mentioned before, nitrogen is most abundant in the environment. However some less noticed places are in food storage, electronic parts, as an alternative to
carbon dioxide
in beer, in the atmosphere of
(Saturn's largest moon), computer coolant, hospitals/clinics/dental offices,motor racing,
greenhouse gases
, dynamite and fertilizers. Also, nitrogen is found in the human body and plants.
Why Do We Need Nitrogen?
Every atom and molecule needs to live grow and reproduce. Nitrogen, in its many forms, is a requirement for all living organisms to grow and function. Life on Earth uses nitrogen and nitrogen compounds to produce amino acids which is a building block of proteins and create nucleic acids such as
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
which as we know, gives commands to our cells on how to look and function.
Ribonucleic acid (RNA)
is the messanger of DNA. RNA holds copies of the commands DNA sends and delivers it to the cells.
Even though we use nitrogen in so many ways, how do we obtain the nitrogen needed to survive? The answer to that is the
nitrogen cycle
How Does it Work?
What is the Nitrogen Cycle?
The nitrogen cycle describes the continuous sequence of events where atmospheric nitrogen and nitrogenous compounds are transferred by various methods to the soil, plants, animals and back to the atmosphere.
In plain, simple english, all this means is how nitrogen changes states and moves between the air, soil, plants and animals.
Detail 3
Many human activities have a significant impact on the nitrogen cycle. Chemical additives, pollution, agriculture, the burning of fossil fuels, application of nitrogen-based fertilizers, and other activities can dramatically increase the amount of natural nitrogen in an ecosystem.
In terrestrial ecosystems, the addition of nitrogen can lead to nutrient imbalance in trees, changes in forest health, global climate change, ozone depletion, smog, declines in biodiversity, water quality and human health as well.

What Impact do Humans Have on the Nitrogen Cycle?

Soil and Plants
root nodules
The process begins with the atmosphere. Nitrogen
float around in the air. However, in its
form the nitrogen is entirely useless to all organisms. Before it can be utilized, it must be "
". For fixation to occur, you require
, or
which is found in the soil or in the
root nodules
leguminous plants
(plants that grow beans, peas, lentils etc.), to split the atoms of nitrogen and combine them with the
present within the air to form
nitrogen oxide
. Other bacteria in the soil combine nitrogen with other
to create
nitrogenous compounds
(ex. nitrates, nitrites and ammonium). The plants can use these substances. The plants absorb the compounds and use it to produce
, a liquidy substance used in the process of
. Following the food cycle, herbivores eat the vegetation and
eat the
, thus transferring nitrogen to the animals. As humans, we eat both plants and animals. This is how we obtain out nitrogen. To transfer the nitrogen back to its original state as a gas, bacteria in t he soil
the nitrogen compounds, thus returning the nitrogen back to the atmosphere. This is the nitrogen cycle!
Before we continue this Prezi, lets summarize what we have learned so far in order to fully understand our next topic.
Nitrogen is a gas that is abundant in our atmosphere. It is found in many places on earth and in space. It helps humans and animals create amino acids which is a building block of proteins and DNA and RNA. Plants use nitrogen to produce chlorophyll which aids in photosynthesis. Nitrogen moves throughout the earth via the nitrogen cycle, which starts with the fixation of nitrogen, then delivered to plants and animals, ending in the return of nitrogen to the atmosphere through denitrification.
Our next topic "Human Impacts" , tells how the nitrogen cycle is being affected by humans and weather these are positive or negative and how to control them.

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-Sharmeen Usman
So, in conclusion, humans have a very negative impact on such a significant natural process. Hopefully, one day, we can put a stop to all this negativity and make earth a better place for all mankind!
What are We Doing?
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