B2 Background Info


1. LEO (Landscape Evolution Observatory) (DR. STEVE DeLONG)                       Team of 4 or 5

Start with this UA News press release, “Building Mountains in a Bottle.”

Also look at the introductory video about LEO.

Tom Beal’s recent article on LEO refers to an earlier piece that ran in October: “The UA hopes its Landscape Evolution Observatory will attract research dollars.”

This overview provides a detailed look at the Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO), which consists of three massive landscapes built inside an environmentally controlled greenhouse. LEO will address fundamental grand challenges in Earth systems science:

  • How do water, energy and carbon move through landscapes?
  • How do biological systems (vegetation and microbes) modify landscapes?
  • How will terrestrial water resources alter with climate change?

https://scicats.wordpress.com/biosphere-2/ Look at the fourth video about potted mesquite and grass experiment, which starts about halfway down the page. A student shot, edited and produced this video last fall.

The LEO Overview provides technical details.

Dr. Steve DeLong is a geologist and the lead scientist on LEO.

2. TROPICAL RAIN FOREST  (DR. JOOST VAN HAREN)                              Team of 3 or 4

Start with this UA News press release, “A Playhouse for Planet Earth.” Keep in mind that it was written two years ago.

Here’s a short but more recent UA Alumni Association article on the “World Under Glass.”

“Tropical forest response to climate change” describes the rain forest experiment being conducted at Biosphere 2.

https://scicats.wordpress.com/biosphere-2/ Look at the first three videos about the rain forest experiment, which start about halfway down the page. All three were shot, edited and produced by students last fall.

Dr. Joost van Haren is the lead scientist on the tropical rain forest experiment. Joost was a grad student back then. Keep in mind that things might have changed!

3. MODEL CITY (NATE ALLEN)                     Team of 4 or 5

Start with this UA News press release, “Biosphere 2 a ‘Model City.’” It describes how cities are looking for more effective ways to monitor and manage water and energy use.

Biosphere 2 Model City Program provides an overview of the various Model City projects.

John de Dios, a student in last year’s class, wrote a story and produced a video about the Model City project.

Mariana Dale’s story on the “Green Roofs project at Biosphere 2″ was published in The Explorer, the newspaper that covers Oro Valley, Marana and the northwest side of Tucson. Mariana took this class last fall.

Learn about the experimental design for the green roofs project and how citizen scientists are participating.

Nate Allen coordinates the Model City research program. He posts to a blog: Sustainable Sphere.


This short announcement explains how plants can eat rock.

This story by Jason Torrey, one of last year’s students, provides a great overview of how life can arise from simple rock. “Rock Soup: A Recipe for Life” was published in The Explorer, the newspaper that covers Oro Valley, Marana and the northwest side of Tucson.

Biogeoscientists at Biosphere 2 are studying how biological weathering is transforming the Earth’s near surface. They look at the interaction of bacteria, fungi, plants and rock surfaces to understand fundamental geobiological processes in mineral colonization and weathering.

This online Prezi presentation illustrates the setup.

The main researcher is Dr. Katerina Dontsova. The postdoc working on the project is Dr. Dragos Zaharescu, who’s a kick.

Dragos is also putting together a crowd science activity that involves having trained explorers explore the highest altitudes and longitudes on Earth and bring back rock samples and their associated life (biofilm). We’ve covered several places already. Here are links about the emerging project:


A famous polar explorer climbed Denali solo in January this year collected rocks for us:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Journalism 472/572

%d bloggers like this: