The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Mass of the Biosphere

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Begon, Michael, John L. Harper, & Colin R. Townsend. Ecology: Individuals, Populations, and Communities. Second Edition. Boston: Blackwell Scientific, 1990: 652. "World Biomass (109 t), total continental 1837, total marine 3.9, full total 1841 … (Whittaker, R.H. Communities and Ecosystems. Second Edition. Macmillan, London, 1975.)" 1,841 Pg
Environmental Encyclopedia. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1994: 95 "Vitousek and his colleagues estimate the net primary production of the earth's biosphere as 224.5 petagrams, one petagram being equivalent to 1015 grams." 224.5 Pg
Whittaker, Robert H. Communities and Ecosystems. Toronto: Macmillan, 1970: 83. "World Biomass (109 dry tons) total land 1852, total ocean 3.3, total for earth 1855 … (Rodin, L.E., and N.I. Bazilevich. Production and Mineral Cycling in Terrestrial Vegetation. Transl. ed. by G.E. Fogg. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. 1968: v +288 pp. Ryther, J.H. "Geographic variations in productivity." In The Sea, London: Interscience. 1963: Vol. 2, pp.347-380 Strickland, J. D. H. "Production of organic matter in the primary stages of the marine food chain."In Chemical Oceanography. London and New York: Academic Press. 1965: Vol. 1, pp.477-610)" 1,855 Pg
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. USA: McGraw-Hill, 1992. "World Biomass (109 dry metric tons) total continental 1837 total marine 3.9 full total 1841 … (R.H. Whittaker, Communities and Ecosystems. Second Edition, Macmillan, 1975.)" 1,841 Pg
Piritivaara, Mika. MikaP-ASTRO-EARTH. "Mass of Biosphere 1.148 × 1019 g (A. Poldervart, 1955)" 11,480 Pg

The biosphere is a relatively thin zone of air, soil, and water that ranges from about 10 kilometers above ground into the atmosphere to the deepest ocean floor. It is also known as the ecosphere. In this area all living (biotic) organisms are found and interact with one another and with their nonliving (abiotic) environment. This zone includes most of the hydrosphere, (liquid water, frozen water, and water vapor in the atmosphere) and parts of the lower atmosphere (a thin, gaseous envelope of air around the planet) and the upper lithosphere (Earth's crust and upper mantle). The major parts of the ecosphere are producers, (green plants) consumers, (herbivores and carnivores) decomposers, (fungi and bacteria) and the nonliving.

Ecology is the study of how the air, water, soil, and organisms in the biosphere work. Ecologists assign every organism in an ecosystem to a feeding level or trophic level depending on whether it is a producer or a consumer and on what it eats or decomposes. Producers belong to the first trophic level, primary consumers to the secondary trophic level, secondary consumers to the third trophic level and so on. The organisms in most ecosystems form a complex network of feeding relationships called a food web. Each trophic level in a food web contains a certain amount of biomass, the weight of all organic matter contained in its organisms. It is also defined as organic matter produced directly from solar energy through photosynthesis and indirectly by consumers feeding on producers. Ecologists can estimate biomass by harvesting random patches in an ecosystem. The sample organisms are sorted according to trophic levels, dried, and weighed. In a food web biomass is transferred from one trophic level to another, with some usable energy lost in each transfer.

Biomass can include wood, agricultural wastes, and some components of garbage. Some of this plant matter can be burned as a solid fuel or converted into more convenient gaseous or liquid biofuels. Various types of biomass fuels can be used for heating space and water, producing electricity, and propelling vehicles. Biomass supplies about 15% of the world's energy. It is a renewable energy resource so long as trees and plants are not harvested faster than they grow back. It is considered a renewable resource because on a human time scale it is essentially inexhaustible.

Amanda Meyer -- 2001