Earth in a bot­tle

Since the early 1990s Bio­sphere 2 has demon­strated the pos­si­bil­i­ties and short­falls of cre­at­ing a sec­ond home on Earth

How It Works - - ENVIRONMENT -

Com­pleted in 1991, it took four years to cre­ate Bio­sphere 2, an en­tire ecosys­tem mod­elled on the Earth. As cli­mate change and ex­trater­res­trial coloni­sa­tion were hot top­ics of the time, the prospect of build­ing a con­tained eco­log­i­cal sys­tem on an­other planet was at the fore­front of en­gi­neer John P Allen’s mind.

Allen con­ceived the idea of a hu­man ter­rar­ium to study the ef­fects of life in a bot­tle. Com­prised of five biomes – an ocean with co­ral reef, trop­i­cal rain­for­est, sa­van­nah grass­land, fog desert and man­grove wet­lands – the project aimed to iden­tify if these sys­tems could work to­gether to sus­tain life in con­fine­ment.

In or­der to cre­ate these ecosys­tems, sam­ples of life from across the globe were taken and brought to Bio­sphere 2 in Ari­zona, US. This even

Build­ing a bio­sphere

Dis­cover how the Bio­sphere 2 sus­tained life within its walls in­cluded ship­ping tons of ocean wa­ter – rather than re­cre­at­ing wa­ter salin­ity ar­ti­fi­cially – so that al­gae and plank­tonic or­gan­isms could re­main with the wa­ters to pro­vide their es­sen­tial role in an ocean ecosys­tem. To­day, the 1.27-hectare bio lab is man­aged by the Univer­sity of Ari­zona, who con­duct ex­per­i­ments to bet­ter un­der­stand our chang­ing global cli­mate.

Ar­eas such as the trop­i­cal rain­for­est acted as an in­te­gral part of the Bio­sphere 2 ecosys­tem

Bio­sphere 2 is now a re­search fa­cil­ity in Or­a­cle, Ari­zona, in the US

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.