WHAT IS BIOSPHERE 2?
Come tour one of the world’s most unique facilities dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues. The Biosphere 2 facility serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies, an arena for scientific discovery and discussion, and a far-reaching provider of public education. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe; to catalyze interdisciplinary thinking and understanding about Earth and its future; to be an adaptive tool for Earth education and outreach to industry, government, and the public; and to distill issues related to Earth systems planning and management for use by policymakers, students and the public.
The mission of Biosphere 2 is to advance our understanding of the natural and man-made environment through unique experimentation, training of interdisciplinary scientists, science education and public outreach, and organization of meetings to address grand challenges that affect the quality of life and the understanding of our place in the universe.
The University of Arizona Biosphere 2 consists of a unique large-scale experimental apparatus housing seven model ecosystems, a team of multidisciplinary scientists, a broad science education and public outreach program, and a modern conference center. The seven model ecosystems are: 1) a mature rainforest with over 90 tropical tree species, 2) a 2600 m3 ocean, 3) forested swamps dominated by mangrove trees, 4) a tropical savanna grassland, 5) a 1400 m2 coastal fog desert, 6) three desert hillslope grass-shrubland landscapes, and 7) Biosphere 2, its campus, and associated buildings and facilities serve as a 162,000 m2 model city and urban ecosystem.
WATER AND CLIMATE
Biosphere 2 offers unique opportunities for the exploration of complex questions in the earth sciences and allows controlled experimentation at a variety of scales that helps researchers translate knowledge between the laboratory and the real world.
Biosphere 2 is the only location in the world where the dynamics of water in complex landscapes can be effectively evaluated. Understanding the dynamics of water as affected by future climate change is crucial for developing sustainable societal practices.
The critical zone is the “Earth’s outer skin”, where living organisms, air, soil, water, and rock interact and shape the Earth’s surface. By working across our disciplines we are looking into the complex interactions and feedbacks among dynamic properties of hydrology, geology, ecology, and soil and atmospheric sciences.