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A Big Ball of Life

the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere together in one picture The biosphere is all about life. Physical geographers use the term biosphere to describe our living world. This is where all of the trees, bugs, and animals live. The biosphere extends to the upper areas of the atmosphere where birds and insects can be found. It also reaches deep into the ground at a dark cave or to the bottom of the ocean at hydrothermal vents. The biosphere extends to any place that life (of any kind) can exist on Earth.

The biosphere is the one place where all of the other spheres of the planet work together. Think about the interactions for a second. The land interacts with the water (hydrosphere). The land interacts with the air (atmosphere and climates). The land even interacts with forces deep inside the Earth and the energy coming to the Earth from space. All of those forces work together to create our living world.

Big, Small, and the Smallest Factors

Many factors affect the biosphere and our life here on Earth. There are large factors such as the distance between the Earth and the Sun. If our planet were closer to the Sun, it might be too hot to support life. If we were further away, it might be too cold. Even the tilt of the Earth is important. Seasons and seasonal climate changes are direct results of the tilt of the Earth towards or away from the Sun.

comparison of mount lassen in sping with snow and summer with dry mountainsides Smaller factors are also act on the biosphere. If you were to look at a piece of land that was only one square mile, you would find influential factors such as climate, daily weather, and erosion. These smaller factors change the land and the organisms must react accordingly. Even though humans are able to control their environment, they are still vulnerable to weather and earthquakes.

The smallest of factors in the biosphere work on a molecular level. Chemical erosion is a great example of a landscape changing one molecule at a time. Oxidation and reduction reactions happen all the time, changing the composition of rocks and organic materials. It's not just chemistry at work on the molecular level. Tiny organisms such as bacteria and single-celled organisms are constantly working to break down materials (organic and inorganic) and change the world.

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