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The biosphere refers to the crossroads, summation or meeting point of all ecosystems on Earth. The biosphere refers to the living world, the biological component of earth systems and every living organism can be found within the biosphere (as well as dead organic matter) and can be viewed as a global ecosystem.
The biosphere has existed for approximately 3.5 billion years. The biosphere is considered to be a closed system (except for the solar and cosmic radiation and Earth's interior heat) that is mostly self-regulating.
The biosphere concept
The first use of the term "biosphere" was by Eduard Suess in 1875, who defined the biosphere as "the place on Earth's surface where life dwells". The concept was refined closer to the usage of it today by Vladimir I. Vernadsky in 1926, which established the biosphere concept as part of earth systems science.
Different disciplines rely on use of the term biosphere as an explanatory concept. This includes astronomy, geophysics, hydrology, biogeography, evolution, ecology, earth science and physical geography.
A biosphere (rather than the biosphere) can refer to human created biosphere experiments within and enclosed area for testing the ability to create and run a biosphere where conditions would not otherwise permit this to occur naturally, especially bodies in space. Examples include BIOS-3 and Biosphere 2.
Locating the biosphere
The biosphere extends to the depths of ocean trenches, to the tops of mountains, deep into the soils of the Earth, in the forests and the polar regions and everything in between. The biosphere encompasses the interactions of the living organisms with the lithosphere (Earth's solid surface layer), hydrosphere (water) and atmosphere (the air above the lithosphere). Interactions with other spheres are included too, such as the cryosphere, anthrosphere, geosphere, etc. The biosphere overlaps each sphere, as life exists everywhere; however, most life exists between 500 metres under the ocean's surface to 6 kilometres above the sea level.
Interacting with other spheres
The interactions of the biosphere with other spheres occurs constantly to conserve, reproduce and develop life.
The biosphere exchanges both energy and matter with the other spheres outlined earlier. This forms a part of the biogeochemical cycling of such elements as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous and sulphur.
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