Battle for the Biosphere

Battle for the Biosphere - notes for GCSE Edexcel B Geography

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Battle for the Biosphere
What is the biosphere?
The biosphere is the zone where life is found. It extends 3m below ground and 30cm above ground
and up to 200m deep in the oceans.
What is a biome?
A biome is a very large ecosystem. The rainforests are one biome. Hot deserts are another. The
world can be divided into nine major biomes these are:-
· Tundra
· Coniferous forest
· Temperate deciduous forest
· Temperate grassland
· Mediterranean
· Hot desert
· Tropical rainforest
· Tropical grassland (savanna)
· Other biomes (e.g. ice, mountains)
How climate (temp. and precipitation) influence the distribution of biomes
The location and characteristics of each biome are mainly determined by climate. This is because
climatic factors affects the growth of plants.
· Temperature is the most important factor. It varies with the seasons. The length of the
growing season depends partly on temperature. Temperature gradually decreases as you
move away from the equator. As latitude increase, so does temperature decreases.
· Precipitation is also important. A forest ecosystem with a large biomass, needs lots of
rainfall. The rain must also be distributed throughout the year. Precipitation happens in
low-pressure belts, where air masses converge (meet) and air rises. The pressure belts
change with the seasons.
How local factors, such as altitude, also influence biome distribution
As well as global factors such as temperature and precipitation, local factors affect plant growth :
· Altitude: temperatures decrease by 1 degrees for every 100 metres in height. So the top of
mount Kilimanjaro is covered in snow, although it is near the equator.
· Continentality is the effect of distance from the sea and is also important. (Diagram pg41)
· Nutrient-rich environments encourage the growth of ecosystems. Nutrients are supplied by
the soil or the up-welling ocean currents. Geology, relief and drainage are also important.
The many ways that humans degrade the biosphere
Threats to the Impacts Example

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Battle for the Biosphere
Deforestation Commercial logging destroys forest unless Logging in the rainforests of the
sustainable forestry principles are used. It Amazon and Indonesia.
affects rates of flooding, soil erosion and
humus formation.
Conversion to Commercial intensive farming destroys or Wheat farming in the American
farmland or alters the ecosystem. Urban sprawl Prairies has removed natural
urban use destroys ecosystems and encourages grassland where bison once grazed.
wildfires. Soya beans are grown for biofuels.
The urban sprawl of Los Angeles.…read more

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Battle for the Biosphere
Examples of local and national (UK) management to conserve biomes
Act Local
National policies can be delivered in a local area, involving local people. For example, Biodiversity
Action Plans (BAPs) protect natural vegetation in Great Britain. These plans act at local level . They
arose from the Convention of Biodiversity at the 1992 World Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Act National
At a national scale, governments can set up protected areas, which help to conserve, manage and
restore biodiversity.…read more


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