Are you ready to take an incredible journey around Planet Earth and beyond? In this course, you will delve into a world of innovative science and learn from a team of Biosphere 2 and University of Arizona researchers. From plants and soils, to oceans and rainforests, the Moon, Mars, and more, this course is an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in science and Earth stewardship.
Learn how a unique research station in the Arizona desert is used to investigate big ideas, such as how Earth systems interact, the effects of climate change, and what our future holds. Go back in time thousands of years with information locked in ancient trees, and travel into an imagined future where humans become Martians. Collect and analyze your own scientific data, discuss big questions with participants from around the world, and gain novel insights and understanding about our wonderfully unique planet.
Biosphere 2, an Icon of Possibilities
Why would anyone build an enormous glass structure in the Arizona desert? In Module 1, you will get a virtual introduction to the engineering marvel that is Biosphere 2. Learn about the fascinating history of Biosphere 2 and how it is currently used as the world’s best research instrument for earth systems science. Discover how the ocean, rainforest, and desert can be studied in one enclosed, three-acre structure in the Arizona desert. With Dr. Joaquin Ruiz, University of Arizona (UA) Vice President for Innovation, Director of Biosphere 2, Dean of UA Science, Geoscientist, and John Adams, Deputy Director, UA Biosphere 2.
How do we know that human activity is changing the climate? In Module 2, you will hear from scientists who reconstruct past climates by unlocking information held in ancient trees. Discover how tree rings help us understand drought and wildfire patterns across time and space. Learn what global warming is, exactly, and how it is accelerated by carbon emissions. With Dr. Kevin Anchukaitis, Geography and UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, and Dr. David Frank, UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.
The Science of Water Availability
Where is Earth’s water? In Module 3, you will learn about the global water cycle and discover how much water exists, where it exists, and how it moves around the environment. Learn how Biosphere 2 and Critical Zone research are used to study the water cycle. With Dr. Peter Troch, Director of Science at Biosphere 2, UA Hydrology.
Desert Plants, Climate, and Changing Landscapes
How can many different species coexist in once place? In Module 4, go beyond Biosphere 2 to UA Tumamoc Hill—the world’s oldest long-term desert ecology research site near the University of Arizona. Learn how living and nonliving components of the environment are related, how different species coexist, and how climate variation affects Sonoran Desert plants. With Dr. Larry Venable, UA Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.
Rainforests in an Altered World
What can the Biosphere 2 rainforest tell us about the future? Module 5 focuses on tropical rainforests in the Amazon Basin of South America, and the controlled rainforest inside Biosphere 2. Learn about the fascinating activity of tropical forests, the major roles they play in global climate, and the potential impacts of deforestation and climate change. With Dr. Joost Van Haren, Biosphere 2, UA Honors, and Dr. Scott Saleska, UA Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.
Sea Changes in our Marine Environment
Why are coral reefs in peril, and what can we do about it? In Module 6, discover the immense role that oceans play in global climate, heat distribution, and human livelihoods. Learn why global warming is sometimes called ocean warming, how ocean acidification affects marine life, and innovative ways in which the ocean is studied. With Dr. Julia Cole, U. of Michigan, UA Biosphere 2 Marine Research.
Soil Science - Foundations & Implications
How can soil be alive? In Module 7, discover the fascinating, microscopic world within soils and their critical role in Earth systems. Learn how soils provide functions and services that make them vital to our health and wellbeing. With Dr. Rachel Gallery, UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment, and Dr. Katerina Dontsova, UA Soil Water & Environmental Science, Biosphere 2.
Feeding the Future
Can a Mars or Lunar greenhouse help feed people on Earth? In Module 8, learn how space-farming models can be applied on Earth as we move towards a global population of 10 billion people. Discover innovative controlled agricultural systems, learn more about how plants grow, and get a chance to produce your own hydroponically grown vegetables at home! With Dr. Gene Giacomelli, UA Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.
Life and Resources in Space - Should We Go There?
When will humans live beyond Earth’s gravity? Module 9 is a fascinating and inspiring journey into space. Ignite your imagination as you learn about space tourism, asteroid-mining, moon elevators, robotic space explorers, and Mars colonization. While focusing on space, this module is sure to reaffirm your appreciation of Planet Earth. With Dr. Chris Impey, Associate Dean UA College of Science, UA Astronomy.