5

WHAT IS
THE
BIOSPHERE?

950L

adapted by Newsela . 1809 Shrewsbury. England By Big History Project. England Died April 19.WHAT IS THE BIOSPHERE? By Lorem Ipsum Born February 12. 1882 Downe.

This idea combines the study of geology. we’ve come to use the word biosphere as a way of explaining how life is interconnected. for all life on the planet. A closer look at a word can unfold into another story.The history of a word Sometimes the history of a word can tell us a lot about what the word means. with all its biological and geological relationships. Suess invented the word because he felt it was important to understand life as a whole — not just particular organisms. It appeared more than a hundred years ago in his book The Face of the Earth. The biosphere refers to the part of our planet that supports life. The biosphere is home to life in all its forms. Sphere refers to the round Earth. and an awareness of the different types of life that surround us. or home. In The Face of the Earth. or Earth’s crust.” As we learn more about life on Earth. The plant feeds itself through its roots deep in the soil. Seuss wrote that on “the surface of continents it is possible to single out an independent biosphere. Suess combined two words to make biosphere. Suess used a plant as an example of organic life interacting between the upper sphere and the lithosphere. the Earth’s atmosphere. We can think of the biosphere as the habitat. it rises into the air to breathe. The word biosphere was first used by English-Austrian geologist Eduard Suess. At the same time. This story may connect to other people and other scientific studies. Biosphere = the network of all life on Earth 2 3 . Bio means life.

848 meters (29. The intense cold at this altitude makes for a rough habitat. FORAMINIFERA Single-celled protists 11 KILOMETERS Its summit 8.902 meters (35. Located on the Nepal-Tibet border. The pressure this deep in the ocean is more than a thousand times that at sea level. . The trench. or under the surface DEVIL WORM Halicephalobus mephisto EXTREMOPHILE BACTERIA Staphylothermus marinus & Thermoproteus tenax SNAILFISH Liparidae CHALLENGER DEEP At least 10. was formed when the Pacific plate was subducted beneath the smaller Mariana plate. near Guam. The Himalayas were formed 40–50 million years ago when the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate. near. but some organisms thrive in these extreme conditions.8 BAR-HEADED GOOSE Anser indicus BIOSPHERE COMFORT ZONE MOST BIRDS Fly within 2 km of the ground SEA GIANT SQUID Architeuthis dux 2 SPERM WHALE Physeter macrocephalus 0 3 5 ANGLERFISH Cryptopsaras couesii MOST LIFE ON EARTH Lives in a thin layer on.768 feet) below sea level. but birds have been seen flying over Everest and some even nest on its lower slopes.MOUNT EVEREST AIR RÜPPELL'S GRIFFON Gypps rupelli 12 LAND 8. Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain. Everest is one of many peaks taller than 8. Challenger Deep is the deepest depression in the western Pacific’s Mariana Trench.000 meters in the massive Himalayan range.029 feet) above sea level.

Every organism has a different way to make a living. They must all reproduce within their own environment. But it’s also incredibly large when you consider all the living things on Earth and our planet’s huge areas of water and land. Altitude. soils. The Earth’s geologic processes have produced many different environments. 6 7 . but so can more specific places. Examining these individual ecosystems. a river. reveals the many complex relationships between life and the planet we all share. These smaller areas are called “ecosystems. Even in extreme environmental conditions. It’s just a thin layer around a mediumsized planet. all life forms must fight for resources and energy.” An ecosystem is a unique area that supports certain forms of life. The biosphere has incredible diversity.Worlds within worlds The biosphere is incredibly small. Oceans. and terrain can all make an ecosystem unique. latitude. using biology and geology. or the “vent communities” that surround hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. climate. As with most things that seem very large. it’s possible to break down the biosphere and use different words to describe smaller environments and habitats. Think of a cave. longitude. we see amazing examples of life’s flexibility and determination. a city. From baboons to bacteria. jungles and mountain ranges can be ecosystems. a coral reef.

For more information on Lexile measures and how they correspond to grade levels: http://www. tens of millions of students worldwide receive a Lexile measure that helps them find targeted readings from the more than 100 million articles. rather than generalized age or grade levels. The Lexile® Framework for Reading The Lexile® Framework for Reading evaluates reading ability and text complexity on the same developmental scale. Recognized as the standard for matching readers with texts. vocabulary and organization. visit www. Lexile measures connect learners of all ages with resources at the right level of challenge and monitors their progress toward state and national proficiency standards. the Lexile Framework determines reading ability based on actual assessments.Image credits Earth from space © Science Picture Co/Science Faction/CORBIS An 1869 lithograph of Eduard Suess by Josef Kriehuber. More information about the Lexile® Framework can be found at www. 8 .com/about.com/about-lexile/lexile-overview/ To learn more about Newsela. books and websites that have been measured.com. public domain Illustration of the biosphere © The Big History Project Scuba diver looking at coral reef © moodboard/CORBIS Articles leveled by Newsela have been adjusted along several dimensions of text complexity including sentence structure.Lexile. The number followed by L indicates the Lexile measure of the article.newsela.lexile. Unlike other measurement systems.