Blueprints for a Greenhouse

Long plagued by logistical problems and dogged by controversy, the troubled Biosphere 2, under new management, is attempting to revitalize one of the most criticized aspects of the program--the quality of its science.

Since the summer, more than a dozen geologists, biogeochemists, ecologists, and climate modelers have visited the 3.15-acre Oracle, Ariz., facility--the world's largest enclosed artificial ecosystem--to evaluate its potential experimental uses and have made recommendations, in a series of "white papers," for various investigations that might take advantage of its unique features. The evaluation is part of an effort by the new management team to generate a long-term scientific plan and restructure the enterprise as a full-scale research center. The scientists' proposals span three broad areas of possible study within the facility: biogeochemical cycles; ecology and plant biology; and modeling systems.

A member of the new team of scientific consultants who is quite familiar...

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