What is the Biosphere?
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What Does Biosphere Mean
We explain what the biosphere is, its history, components and layers. Also, what are the Unesco Biosphere Reserves.
What is the biosphere?
The biosphere or biosphere is the "living envelope" of planet Earth , that is, the total set of life forms (animal, plant, microbial, etc.) and the system that they make up with their respective environments, located in the superficial portion of the earth's crust . In other words, the biosphere is the global ecosystem , which includes all local ecosystems .
The biosphere emerged on our planet around 3.5 billion years ago , and since then it has evolved in complexity and biodiversity , despite having undergone numerous mass extinctions. The human being is part of it, and therefore also its communities , nations and cities .
The term biosphere was coined by the Austrian geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914), but it began to be used formally in scientific studies in 1920, thanks to the Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadski (1863-1945), even before the term ecosystem , which appeared in 1935.
Biosphere is today a term in common use in the areas of astronomy , geology , climatology , palaeogeography and other similar disciplines , always referring to life on Earth.
It can serve you: Levels of organization of matter
Components of the biosphere
On the one hand, the biosphere is made up of life forms themselves, that is, by all human beings, animals , plants , fungi , microorganisms and others. In addition, it is also made up of the different biogeochemical cycles that make it possible to sustain life , which take place on the earth's surface.
This is because the biosphere is not a passive stratum in which living beings inhabit and now. On the contrary, it is a vast network of chemical exchange with the environment , at different levels of organization and complexity.
Layers of the biosphere
The biosphere does not have layers , as it is not something that has a structure in itself. However, three systems converge in it that could be understood as fundamental for its maintenance, which are:
- Geosphere . The physical and solid layer of the Earth, on whose surface life occurs.
- Hydrosphere . The set of all bodies ofliquid and solid water that exist on the planet, and without which life would not have been and would not be possible.
- Atmosphere . The heterogeneous ball of gases that covers the geosphere, and that provides the essential gases for life as we know it, particularly the carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) necessary for photosynthesis and the oxygen (O) necessary for respiration .
It can serve you: Layers of the Earth
Importance of the biosphere
The biosphere is unique in the Solar System , since Earth is the only planet on which life has been known. This perhaps means that the location and properties of the Earth are unique or extremely rare, and that therefore the emergence of the biosphere is something of paramount importance.
Furthermore, the biochemical processes undertaken by the different forms of life alter the environment , adding or subtracting elements in various compounds , which in turn affects the geochemical state of the world.
For example, the emergence of photosynthesis during the Precambrian period greatly affected the composition of the atmosphere , filling it with oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide, which allowed the gradual cooling of the planet, by reducing the greenhouse effect of heavy atmospheric gases. .
Biosphere and ecosphere
The terms biosphere and ecosphere are synonymous and are often used interchangeably.
It is called biosphere reserves to certain regions of the planet that are considered representative of the various habitats . Given their great scientific interest and their enormous contribution to biodiversity, they receive special support from Unesco , within the framework of the Program on Human Being and the Biosphere inaugurated in 1971.
These "reserves" are not protected areas , nor are they contemplated in any international treaty. They are part of the territorial sovereignty of their respective countries, but at the same time they are part of a world network of spaces sponsored by Unesco given their interest for ecologically sustainable development.
Today there are 701 biosphere reserves in 124 different countries.
Follow with: Ecology