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Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society

The Bulletin publishes expository articles on contemporary mathematical research, written in a way that gives insight to mathematicians who may not be experts in the particular topic. The Bulletin also publishes reviews of selected books in mathematics and short articles in the Mathematical Perspectives section, both by invitation only.

ISSN 1088-9485 (online) ISSN 0273-0979 (print)

The 2020 MCQ for Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society is 0.84.

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Earth’s carbon cycle: A mathematical perspective
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by Daniel H. Rothman PDF
Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 52 (2015), 47-64 Request permission


The carbon cycle represents metabolism at a global scale. When viewed through a mathematical lens, observational data suggest that the cycle exhibits an underlying mathematical structure. This review focuses on two types of emerging results: evidence of global dynamical coupling between life and the environment, and an understanding of the ways in which smaller-scale processes determine the strength of that coupling. Such insights are relevant not only to predicting future climate but also to understanding the long-term co-evolution of life and the environment.
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Additional Information
  • Daniel H. Rothman
  • Affiliation: Lorenz Center, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
  • MR Author ID: 257275
  • Email:
  • Received by editor(s): May 30, 2014
  • Published electronically: September 17, 2014
  • Additional Notes: I would like to thank T. Bosak, C. Follett, and D. Forney for collaborations on problems discussed in Section \ref{sec:decomposition}. This work was supported by NASA Astrobiology (NNA08CN84A and NNA13AA90A) and NSF (OCE-0930866 and EAR-1338810).
  • © Copyright 2014 American Mathematical Society
  • Journal: Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 52 (2015), 47-64
  • MSC (2010): Primary 86-02; Secondary 92B99
  • DOI:
  • MathSciNet review: 3286481