Santa Fe Institute

Biosphere 2: Cutting-Edge Laboratory for Biospherics, Closed Ecological System and Sustainable/Recycling Technologies Research

by John Allen, William Dempster, Mark Nelson
July 15, 2010
The talk will present the challenges and accomplishments of the Biosphere 2 facility, the world’s largest biospherics laboratory, during the years of its closed ecological system experiments (1991-1994). The talks will review the conceptual design of the facility, including developing bioregenerative techniques for purifying air, water and wastewater and recycling nutrients and a highly productive, non-chemical sustainable agricultural system. The relevance of Biosphere 2 research for improving human management and mitigating negative impacts on our global biosphere will be explored as well as lessons for ecological restoration of critical biomes. Some of the striking atmospheric and system dynamics will be shared illustrating the opportunities the extensive sensor and floral/faunal evolution data from Biosphere 2 offer to advance modeling of whole system metabolism and complex/non-linear systems. This can deepen our understanding of Biosphere 2’s historic dynamics and also improve future closed systems designs. The unique experience of the “biospherians” living and working as part of a biospheric system will also be discussed.