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Biosphere 2, AZ

Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.5 of 5 
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,902 feet
Elevation Gain -177 feet
Accumulated Gain 159 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 1.3
Interest Historic
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
2  2013-03-09 WilliamnWendi
12  2012-12-21 DarthStiller
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 225
Photos 5,981
Trips 1,093 map ( 2,433 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Nov, Mar, Oct → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:37am - 7:22pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Delve into the Bio Dome
by PaleoRob

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Overview: Biosphere 2 is a historic structure in its own right. Operated as a private science experiment in the 1990s to demonstrate how the Earth's systems work together, it is now run by the University of Arizona to monitor how systems should behave in the real world.

History: From Wikipedia: With a size comparable to two and a half football fields, it remains the largest closed system ever created. The glass facility is elevated nearly 4,000 feet above sea level at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, about a half hour outside of Tucson. The sealed nature of the structure allowed scientists to monitor the continually changing chemistry of the air, water and soil contained within. Health of the human crew was monitored by a medical doctor inside and an outside medical team.

Biosphere 2 contained representative biomes: a 1,900 square meter rainforest, an 850 square meter ocean with a coral reef, a 450 square meter mangrove wetlands, a 1,300 square meter savannah grassland, a 1,400 square meter fog desert, a 2,500 square meter agricultural system, a human habitat, and a below-ground level technical infrastructure. Heating and cooling water circulated through independent piping systems and passive solar input through the glass space frame panels covering most of the facility, and electrical power was supplied into Biosphere 2 from an onsite natural gas energy center through airtight penetrations.

Biosphere 2 had two closure experiments, Missions 1 and 2. The first, with a crew of eight people, ran for two years from 1991 to 1993. Following a six month transition period during which researchers entered the facility through airlock doors and conducted research and system engineering improvements, a second closure with a crew of seven people was conducted March 1994 - September 1994. In the course of that second mission, a dispute over management of the financial aspects of the project caused the on-site management to be locked out, and the mission itself to be ended prematurely.

In 1995, Columbia University took over management of the facility for research and as a campus until 2003. In 1996, they changed the virtually airtight, materially-closed structure designed for closed system research, to a "flow-through" system, and halted closed system research. They manipulated carbon dioxide levels for global warming research, and injected desired amounts of carbon dioxide, venting as needed.

By 2006, the property, which is in exurban Tucson, was slated to be redeveloped for a planned community. As of June 5, 2007, the property including surrounding land, totaling 1,650 acres (6.7 km2), had been sold to a residential home developer for US$50 million. A development including homes and a resort hotel was planned for a portion of the land. The Biosphere itself remained open for tours.

On June 26, 2007, the University of Arizona announced it would take over research at the Biosphere 2. The announcement ended immediate fears that the famous glass vivarium would be demolished. University officials said private gifts and grants enabled them to cover research and operating costs for three years with the possibility of extending that funding for 10 years. It has in fact been extended for ten years, and is engaged in multi-year research projects including research into the terrestrial water cycle and how it relates to ecology, atmospheric science, soil geochemistry, and climate change. In June 2011, the University announced that it would assume full ownership of Biosphere 2, effective July 1.

Tour: The tour is following a guide from the habitation area of the Biosphere through the rain forest, ocean, mangrove, and desert biomes, then through the life support systems and out, back to the crew quarters. From there you are able to walk around, unguided, and look into the biomes from the outside, including the ocean viewing windows on the east side of the structure. The guided portion of the tour is approximately 0.5 miles inside the facility. This can be extended by further ventures around the grounds to look at the various biomes and exhibits.

Water Sources: Water fountains and restrooms are located in the crew quarters, and no where else inside the Biosphere.

Camping: None on site.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2012-05-28 PaleoRob
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    check admissions at

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To walk/tour

    From Central Tucson
    From central Tucson, go north to River Road and turn left (heading west).
    Continue on River Road and turn right (north) on Oracle Road (Arizona Highway 77).
    Continue north approx. 24 miles on Oracle Road/Highway 77, to Biosphere 2 Road at Mile Post 96.5, and turn right.

    From Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
    After leaving the airport, follow the signs to Interstate 10 East.
    Take I-10 East, toward Tucson, to Exit 185 and exit the interstate.
    Turn left onto Highway 387 and continue past Coolidge until Highway 387 intersects with Arizona Highway 79 near Florence.
    Turn right on to Highway 79 and follow this until Oracle Junction where you turn left onto Arizona Highway 77.
    Drive 6 miles to the Biosphere 2 turnoff, located at Mile Post 96.5. Turn right on Biosphere Road.
    page created by PaleoRob on May 28 2012 10:22 am
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