Biosphere

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    Biologists have discovered a new group of algae living in a variety of marine and freshwater environments. The newly discovered members of our biosphere, dubbed 'rappemonads', could play an important role in the cycling of elements on our planet.
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    New research shows that microorganisms help control the amount of light that is reflected off ocean surfaces. The amount of light that oceans absorb can have effects on our planet's climate.
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    Researchers have provided new information about the role of plankton in the oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere. The study will help scientists better understand the links between life, the environment and the habitability on Earth.
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    A new mathematical model is helping scientists understand the complex interactions within ecological food webs. The model could help astrobiologists understand the future of extinction events on our planet.
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    Scientists and artists have collaborated to address looming environmental issues. Works included those that address issues related to astrobiology, including the relationship between life and the biosphere. The art show took place in early February at Arizona State University.
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  • Earth’s Life Support Systems
    Astrobiologists study Earth's biogeochemical cycles as a reference for understanding what makes an environment habitable. Cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous show how life and the Earth itself are intricately linked.
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    A new study shows how the fossil record can greatly aid in interpreting modern biodiversity and ecological trends. The data could be useful for astrobiologists studying how climate and ecosystem change could affect the future of life on Earth.
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    Scientists have discovered a unique method by which a marine bacterium recycles iron and uses the essential nutrient to perform completely different cellular functions. This metabolic trick has major implications for the Earth's biosphere because the bacterium's survival is vital for the ocean food web.
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    Scientists are getting closer to unlocking the secrets of oxygenation of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere. Evolution of the Earth's biosphere is linked to the rise of oxygen, and new research shows that organisms like vascular plants may have appeared and evolved under lower oxygen
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    Variations in the Earth's atmospheric oxygen levels are thought to be closely linked to the evolution of life, with strong feedbacks between uni- and multicellular life and oxygen. A new study has shown that coal can give a measure of how much oxygen there was
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    Scientists with NASA's ICESCAPE mission are currently exploring the Arctic's Chukchi Sea, studying the physics, chemistry and biology of the ocean and ice. Studying environments such as this can help astrobiologists better understand the effects of climate change and the role they will play in
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    The evolution of complex life may have gotten a jump start when large quantities of phosphorus washed into the oceans billions of years ago. This could have led to algal blooms that pumped extra oxygen into the environment, bringing blue skies for life on Earth.
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    The oceans are a vital resource for human society - and for the biosphere of Earth as a whole. However, climate change is have some dramatic effects on our oceans and seas. Increases in events like algal blooms are now being tied to global warming.
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    Geologists have found new evidence to support the 'snowball Earth' thoery, where sea ice extended all the way to the equator. Such an icy environment may have had a profound effect on the evolution of life on our planet.
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    Researchers are learning about one of the biggest species extinctions on Earth by studying an environmental disaster that occurred in Spain 11 years ago. The study could provide practical information about how the biosphere responds to abrupt ecological changes.
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