The biosphere is intimately tied to the physical aspects of the Earth. Look outside your window and see how many different species of plants and animals you see. The number you see will depend on a host of factors. Do you live in a city, in a suburb, a town, or out in the country? Do you live in a region that is cold or hot? Do you live in a desert, a rainforest, or somewhere in between? In general, the number of different species in a region is highest where the resources necessary for life (water, sunlight, chemicals) are highest.
The impact of the physical world on the biosphere is just one part of the relationship. The organisms in the biosphere also have an impact on the physical world. Our use of fossil fules has changed the composition of the atmosphere, which is slowly changing the climate around the world. Clearcutting of forest for lumber and development increase erosion and change the nature of our rivers and oceans. The presence of an old growth forest can change the amount of sunlight absorbed in a region and shift weather patterns. Understanding the relationship between the biosphere and the physical world is extremely important to the study of environmental science. The activities below look at the biosphere from a number of different angles.