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

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's climate platform becoming increasingly ambitious thanks to nonstop grassroots pressure, fossil fuel executives and lobbyists are pouring money into the coffers of President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in the hopes of keeping an outspoken and dedicated ally of dirty energy in the White House.

Read More Show Less
The Food and Drug Administration is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.
Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.

Read More Show Less
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. Byron Smith / Getty Images

While the nation overall struggles with rising COVID cases, New York State is seeing the opposite. After peaking in March and April and implementing strict shutdowns of businesses, the state has seen its number of positive cases steadily decline as it slowly reopens. From coast-to-coast, Governor Andrew Cuomo's response to the crisis has been hailed as an exemplar of how to handle a public health crisis.

Read More Show Less
A whale shark swims in the Egyptian Red Sea. Derek Keats / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Gavin Naylor

Sharks elicit outsized fear, even though the risk of a shark bite is infinitesimally small. As a marine biologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, I oversee the International Shark Attack File – a global record of reported shark bites that has been maintained continuously since 1958.

Read More Show Less
A girl sits under a temporary shade made by joining two bed in Churu, Rajasthan on June 4, 2019. Temperatures in the Indian desert city hit 50 degrees C (122 F) for the second time in three days, sending residents scrambling for shade. MONEY SHARMA / AFP via Getty Images

Current efforts to curb an infectious disease show the potential we have for collective action. That action and more will be needed if we want to stem the coming wave of heat-related deaths that will surpass the number of people who die from all infectious diseases, according to a new study, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
America Pikas are found from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains, and have been migrating to higher elevations. Jon LeVasseur / Flickr / Public Domain

By Jenny Morber

Caribbean corals sprout off Texas. Pacific salmon tour the Canadian Arctic. Peruvian lowland birds nest at higher elevations.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Biologists are studying the impact of climate change on the Nenets and their reindeer herds. Deutsche Welle

Biologist Egor Kirillin is on a special mission. Deep in the Siberian wilderness in the Russian Republic of Sakha, he waits on the Olenjok river until reindeer come thundering into the water.

Read More Show Less