Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

The World's Largest Earth Science Experiment: Biosphere 2

Science

Scientists wanted to know if we could replicate the Earth's ecosystems, so in the Sonoran desert outside of Tucson, Arizona they built a three-acre closed-system environment designed to do just that. Known as Biosphere 2 (Biosphere 1 is the Earth), the project was started back in the late 1980s. The idea was to test if we could re-create the Earth's ecosystems in a closed environment to help people to be able to live in space for an extended amount of time.

The project has had a rocky past. In the early 90s, eight brave souls pledged to live in Biosphere 2 for a full two years. "All of their food, water and amenities had to be obtained from inside the Biosphere," says PBS' The Good Stuff. The project ended up hitting a number of stumbling blocks. Oxygen levels got so low halfway through the first year that they had to put more in over fear for the safety of the Biosphere residents. The media deemed the project a failure. A second mission began in 1994, but ended only six months later due to mismanagement and to the fact that two crew members sabotaged the project.

But John Adams, deputy director of Biosphere 2 doesn't see those projects as failures—merely learning processes. "What they did learn, and in my opinion the single most important lesson, was just how little we truly understand Earth's systems," says Adams.

Although people don't live there anymore, the ecosystems have been growing for more than 20 years now, and researchers have been able to learn a lot from the project. In fact, although it was theorized for a long time, ocean acidification "was first demonstrated on a large-scale by researchers from Columbia University at Biosphere 2." And now the University of Arizona is getting ready to conduct the world's largest Earth sciences experiment at Biosphere 2.

Check it out:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Donald Trump Declares War On Bernie Sanders With ISIS-Themed Attack Ad

Can Drinking Water Help You Lose Weight?

These 5 Countries Account for 60% of Plastic Pollution in Oceans

Scuba Divers’ Haunting Photos Show Devastating Impact of Ocean Trash on Marine Life

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Marco Bottigelli / Moment / Getty Images

By James Shulmeister

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Read More Show Less
Luxy Images / Getty Images

By Jo Harper

Investment in U.S. offshore wind projects are set to hit $78 billion (€69 billion) this decade, in contrast with an estimated $82 billion for U.S. offshore oil and gasoline projects, Wood Mackenzie data shows. This would be a remarkable feat only four years after the first offshore wind plant — the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island — started operating in U.S. waters.

Read More Show Less
Giacomo Berardi / Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the strengths and limitations of globalization. The crisis has made people aware of how industrialized food production can be, and just how far food can travel to get to the local supermarket. There are many benefits to this system, including low prices for consumers and larger, even global, markets for producers. But there are also costs — to the environment, workers, small farmers and to a region or individual nation's food security.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Joe Leech

The human body comprises around 60% water.

It's commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less