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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Biosphere 2 celebrates the Earth in April

Courtesy+of+Alex+McIntyreInside+Biosphere+2+lies+the+ocean+biome%2C+one+of+seven+ecosystems+within+the+complex%2C+on+Oct.+11%2C+2014.%26%23160%3BThe+Biosphere+2+is+celebrating+Earth+Month+throughout+April+in+honor+of+Earth+Day.
Alex McIntyre

Courtesy of Alex McIntyre

Inside Biosphere 2 lies the ocean biome, one of seven ecosystems within the complex, on Oct. 11, 2014. The Biosphere 2 is celebrating Earth Month throughout April in honor of Earth Day.

UA Biosphere 2 is hosting Earth Month, a series of activities held on weekends during April where people can learn about different environments through a variety of interactive learning experiences.

John Adams, deputy director for Biosphere 2, said rather than just celebrating Earth Day itself, Biosphere 2 wanted to highlight Earth Day for the entire month of April. Adams said this is the second time Biosphere 2 has done this and will continue to do so in the coming years.

“What’s consistent across all of it is the opportunity to explore Biosphere 2 and get to go inside the facility, and not only hear about the historical aspects of what made and brought this facility to be, but also hear how the UA is using this facility to better understand our planet,” Adams said.

This weekend, Biosphere 2 will be focusing on light, as 2015 is the International Year of Light, and light-based technologies, Adams said.

“April 25 we are going to be celebrating and focusing on the Biosphere 2 ocean, and will give people increased access to our ocean area,” Adams said. “We’ll have some of our researchers who are specifically working with our ocean there to highlight what’s going on and what will be coming up in the future in the Biosphere 2 ocean.”

So far, Adams said the turnout has been very good and the numbers have been strong each weekend.

“Typically, April is a time frame when we have a lot of folks visiting the Tucson area, and so many of these folks choose to visit Biosphere 2 as one of the attractions to see in the area,” Adams said. “I would say a fair percentage of our visitors are from the out-of-state market, but we’re also looking to attract the local Tucson audience by giving a diversity of things to do at Biosphere 2 throughout the year — and this is one of those activities.”

Adams said Biosphere 2 has reached out to various campus entities and is looking to provide additional activities for a younger audience. He said each weekend is themed, and Biosphere 2 offers free admission to children ages 12 and under on both Saturdays and Sundays throughout April.

Kevin Bonine, director of education and outreach for Biosphere 2, said the emphasis of the research is on earth science and focuses particularly on how water and energy move through different ecosystems.

“We’re studying all the hydrological and physical properties of the soil as well as the changes in the biochemistry and the microbial communities,” Bonine said. “The reason why we’re interested in this is because as climate is changing, we can expect things like precipitation patterns to change [and] we may experience more drought. If we don’t understand how water moves through ecosystems, we’re not going to know how much water will be available.”

Sarah White, a biology sophomore, said her favorite part of Biosphere 2 is the Technosphere, the underground mechanism that runs the whole biosphere.

“I personally thought it was really interesting to see all the intricate machines at work, because it really exposed how technology was really sustaining nature, which is very seldom seen,” White said. “Most of the time, we use nature to run our machines, and I liked seeing it the other way around for once.”

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Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

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