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