Biosphere Overview - Teachers Guide


Grass and mounds, layered to show soil.

All living things depend on the biosphere for survival. Whether it's shelter, food, or protection, the type of land cover in a given habitat directly affects the kinds of animals that likely inhabit it. Whenever a portion of this land cover is altered, it can have significant impacts not only on the wildlife in the area, but on the way other Earth spheres interact with the land. For example, removing the tree cover from a steep slope destabilizes the soil, thus making it easier for rainfall to induce landslides.

The Biosphere itself is divided into two areas: Developed and Natural.

  • Developed areas include: Urban and commercial, agricultural, and transportation.
  • Natural areas include: Deserts, forests, water bodies, and a variety of other natural habitats.
Figuring out exactly how anthropogenic changes to the landscape affect our ecosystems is an ongoing field of research that you can help contribute to. The valuable data provided by GLOBE students is helping us enhance our understanding of these connections and Earth's natural landscape. To make sure this data is comparable from site to site, GLOBE students and scientists use GLOBE-approved instruments and follow rigorous protocols


In this investigation, you can find:

  • Learning activities focused on scientific concepts, measurement collection methodologies, and exercises on how to understand data
  • Field guides for each biosphere protocol
  • An Investigation Appendix that contains:
    • Data sheets for all biosphere protocols
    • Clinometer sheets
    • Modified UNESCO Classification (MUC) practice examples
    • MUC system and term glossaries
    • Manual mapping and accuracy assessment tutorials
    • A glossary of relevant terminology


You can view the GLOBE Biosphere Investigation in the six United Nations languages:

2005 Editions: Arabic French | Spanish 

1997 Editions: ChinesePortugueseRussian

General Biosphere Documents