Friday, March 24, 2017

Biosphere 2

History and Purpose.

I was going to try and tell you the history and purpose of Biosphere 2  but relying on my memory would probably end up giving out some misinformation. Therefore here is  a link to Wikipedia’s explanation. 

Our trip to Biosphere 2.

Getting There

Jean and Don came by to pick us up around 10:30.
We went out Coolidge Blvd to Hwy.79 where we turned south and drove to Oracle Junction. Here we turned east and drove 6 miles to the turnoff to Biosphere 2. We got there around 11:30. Don dropped us off at the entrance and went to park the car.


While we were waiting for Don and Jean we noticed a couple of interesting rocks in the landscaping.

This one is Azurite and Malachite.


Here is a nice specimen of Petrified Wood.


The Visitors Center.

Inside the Visitors Center is a nice mural showing the entire site.


We bought our $20.00 tickets for the tour but had to wait until 12:20 for the next tour.
We went to the small cafeteria and had a snack. After that we wandered around the grounds enjoying the views…


the landscaping…


and architecture.


We looked at some outside exhibits on our way to where the tour starts.
This is a solar array that looks like it is either in progress or is detreating.


The Tour.

The tour only goes through one of the structures, a glass step pyramided where all the biomes are located. 
(From Wikipedia)
“Biome” A large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g., forest or tundra.)


This facility covers a little over 3.5 acres and houses several Biomes on the upper level.

This is our tour guide “Orville”. He was very knowledgeable and gave a great tour.


Rain Forest.

(From Wikipedia)
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between 250 and 450 centimetres (98 and 177 in),[1] and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth's tropical rainforests. 

The first biome we visited was the tropical rain forest.


The Ocean.

After leaving the rain forest we walked down a sloping path. To the left of the path is a small “ocean”


The water for the ocean was shipped in from the San Diego area. There is a wave machine to replicate the action of the real ocean.


(From Wikipedia.) “A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of grasses.

To the right of the path (on the left in this picture) is the Savanna.


Mangrove Swamp.

(From Wikipedia)
A Mangrove swamp is a distinct saline woodland or shrubland habitat formed by mangrove trees. They are characterized by depositional coastal environments.

Across from the Savanna and at the end of the ocean is a Mangrove swamp.


Hydroponic  Experiment.

The next thing we see is a local High School hydroponic experiment.

The upper tank has fish in it . The fish eat algae and their excrement fertilizes the water that flows down into the garden and feeds the vegetables and fruit trees. At the end the water is pumped back to the tank at the top, in a closed loop. Of course some of the water is absorbed by the plants and some evaporates so it has to be replaced. The system has been working for some time and has been fairly successful.

Fog Desert.

(From Wikipedia)
A fog desert is a type of desert where fog drip supplies the majority of moisture needed by animal and plant life.[1]

Examples of fog deserts include the Atacama Desert of coastal Chile and Peru, the Baja California Desert of Mexico, the Namib Desert in Namibia,[1] the Arabian Peninsula coastal fog desert,[2] and Biosphere 2, an artificial closed ecosphere in Arizona

The next level is a Fog Desert.


The large square hole is a wind tunnel to keep the air moving through the displays.

The lower levels.

After leaving the desert we walked down into the bowls of the facility.


Down here are all the mechanical systems, 2.5 acres of machinery that keep the 3.5 acre facility going.


The Lung of the Biosphere.

From here we go through a long tunnel…



At the end of the tunnel is the Lung.


The Lung is in one of the two large domes on the property.

The large disk over head is suspended from a rubber diaphram so that it can move up and down.


When the facility was a sealed environment they had to have a way to regulate air pressure in the Biosphere.
As the sun warms the air in the Atrium the pressure rises. This causes the plate to rise which keeps the pressure from blowing out the glass. 
In the evening the air in the Atrium cools and the pressure drops. The plate lowers and allows the air to return to the Atrium to keep the glass from imploding.

The farm.

These large glass structures are called the farm.


Initially when the Biosphere was a closed system they were where the scientist’s grew all their food.
As it is no longer a closed system the buildings are being repurposed to do soil evolution experiments.
They are not open to the public at this time.

Well that was our tour of Biosphere 2.
Oh, by the way, Biosphere 1 is the earth, our environment.

Red Lobster, again.

Today is Don’s birthday and Patti and my ‘first date’ anniversary.
Since we were so close to Oro Valley and the Red Lobster we decided to go there for an early celebratory supper.


Okay, that was our tour to Biosphere 2. It was very interesting.
If you find yourself in the area and are looking for something to do it is worth your time to visit.

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