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Earth's Outer Layers

Defines the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere of Earth.

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Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2

Credit: daderot
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Biosphere_2_-_1998_a.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In 1991, eight humans entered a biosphere seated on Earth, yet it was separate from Earth’s biosphere (what they called Biosphere 1). The Biospherians lived in Biosphere 2 for two years, almost entirely separate from Biosphere 1.

Amazing But True!

  • The eight Biospherians were sealed in what was supposed to be a self-sustaining habitat.
  • Biosphere 2 contained five wilderness areas: a rainforest, an ocean with a coral reef, mangrove wetlands, savannah grassland, and a fog desert.
  • Credit: Colin Marquardt
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Biosphere2_Inside_big.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Savanna and Ocean sections inside Biosphere 2 [Figure2]

     

  • Biosphere 2 also contained an agricultural system and a human habitat. However, the Biospherians could not grow enough food to sustain themselves. They broke into emergency supplies and many lost quite a bit of weight.
  • Below ground contained the system’s infrastructure.
  • Biosphere 2 is now owned by the University of Arizona and is the site of earth science research. They are especially interested the effects of a warming climate on ecosystems.

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about Biosphere 2. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the main reason that people would need to live in a biosphere separate from Earth’s?
  2. What happened to the air and water that was trapped within Biosphere 2 during the two year experiment?
  3. Why did it take Poynter four months to make a pizza?
  4. What happened to the oxygen in the sealed biosphere?
  5. What did the experiment at Biosphere 2 teach us? Did the people involved learn what they wanted to learn from it?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: daderot; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Biosphere_2_-_1998_a.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Colin Marquardt; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Biosphere2_Inside_big.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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