The Biosphere: An Integral Part of the Planet and its Climate
The Gaia Hypothesis, developed by James Lovelock in the 1970s, emphasized the importance of the biosphere on the regulation of Earth’s climate. Lovelock’s scientific research focused on how the Earth’s atmosphere was affected by the biosphere. The main tenet of the Gaia Hypothesis is that our planet is analogous to a single cell – everything it has or could need is contained within the cell aside from energy that comes in from the Sun. Taken too literally, this may sound completely absurd. However, the general idea of Earth as a contained system is now widely accepted. This idea of Lovelock’s dovetails well with the idea, formulated about a decade later in the 1980s, of Earth system science, that the parts of our planet are interconnected in a multitude of ways.
Today, interdisciplinary research combining biochemistry, geochemistry, biology, hydrology, and atmospheric science helps us to better understand the biosphere’s role in the Earth system and, in particular, how biogeochemical cycles affect the Earth system. This understanding of the biosphere forms part of the framework utilized by supercomputer models, which describe and predict the Earth’s climate.