
Balancing the Carbon Cycle: How to turn grams of carbon into CO_{2} parts per
million. 1. Take grams of carbon and divide by 12 g/mol to get moles of carbon or moles of CO_{2} since CO_{2} has 1 mole of carbon in each mole of CO_{2}. 2. Take the number of moles and divide by the number of moles of air in the atmosphere (1.8194 X 10^{20} mol), then multiply by one million (10^{6}) to get parts per million, ppm. Example: Let's say we have 3.2 Gt C released into the atmosphere in a certain process. G means giga = 10^{9} and t = tons, which is 1000 kg or 10^{6} g, so what we really have is 3.2 X 10^{15} g of C. Note: All data are expressed in SI, or metric units, so a ton means a metric ton, which is 1000 kg, or 2200 lbs. step 1: 3.2 X 10^{15} g / 12 g/mol = 2.7 X 10^{14} mol step 2: (2.7 X 10^{14} mol / 1.8194 X 10^{20} mol) X 10^{6} = 1.4 ppm What if you're given a mass of CO_{2} instead of a mass of carbon? Then, in step 1 divide by 44 g/mol, the molecular weight of CO_{2}.
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