What are the similarities and differences between the carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle?

1 Answer
May 23, 2017

Please see explanation below.


Carbon Cycle:

  • There are many important processes in the carbon cycle that primarily relate to photosynthesis, decomposition, and deposition.
  • #CO_2# is absorbed by various plants and vegetation and converted into carbohydrates via photosynthesis.
  • Carbon travels through the food chain and eventually makes its way into the atmosphere via cellular respiration, burning of fossil fuels, or decay of organisms.
  • Carbon travels from the ground to the atmosphere
  • Fixation of carbon is carried out by living organism including plants and animals.

University of Waikato

Nitrogen Cycle:

  • Has the processes of mineralization, nitrification, and denitrification.
  • Nitrogen fixation occurs from converting Nitrogen gas (#N_2#) into ammonia (#NH_3#).
  • Nitrogen is sent to the ground.
  • The nitrogen cycle takes place in Earth's various "spheres" (geosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere).
  • All stages of the nitrogen cycle are carried out by various microorganisms.



  • Both are biogeochemical cycles that release their respective element into the atmosphere.
  • The carbon and nitrogen cycles work together and can often be referred to as the CNO cycle.
  • Both start as a gas and end as a gas.