desertification


desertification
/di zerr'teuh fi kay"sheuhn/, n. Ecol.
1. the processes by which an area becomes a desert.
2. the rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semiarid regions, usually caused by a combination of drought and the overexploitation of grasses and other vegetation by people.
Also, desertization /dez'euhr teuh zay"sheuhn/. Cf. aridification.
[1970-75; DESERT1 + -I- + -FICATION]

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Spread of a desert environment into arid or semiarid regions, caused by climatic changes, human influence, or both.

Climatic factors include periods of temporary but severe drought and long-term climatic changes toward dryness. Human factors include artificial climatic alteration, as through the removal of vegetation (which can lead to unnaturally high erosion), excessive cultivation, and the exhaustion of water supplies. Desertification drains an arid or semiarid land of its life-supporting capabilities. It is characterized by a declining groundwater table, salt accumulation in topsoil and water, a decrease in surface water, increasing erosion, and the disappearance of native vegetation.

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also called  Desertization,  

      spread or encroachment of a desert environment into arid or semiarid regions, caused by climatic changes, human influence, or both. Climatic factors include periods of temporary but severe drought and long-term climatic changes toward aridity. Human factors include the artificial alteration of the climate, such as degradation of the biological environment in arid regions by removing vegetation (which can lead to unnaturally high erosion), excessive cultivation, and the exhaustion of surface-water or groundwater supplies for irrigation, industry, or domestic use.

      Desertification drains an arid or semiarid land of its life-supporting capabilities. The process is characterized by a declining groundwater table (water table), salinization of topsoil and water, diminution of surface water, increasing erosion, and the disappearance of native vegetation. Areas undergoing desertification may show all of these symptoms, but the existence of only one usually provides sufficient evidence that the process is taking place. Desertification usually begins in areas made susceptible by drought or overuse by human populations and spreads into arid and semiarid regions.

      Desertification is not limited to nondesert regions and can occur in areas within deserts where the delicate ecological balance is disturbed. The Sonoran (Sonoran Desert) and Chihuahuan deserts of the American Southwest, for example, have become observably more barren as the wildlife and plant populations have diminished.

      Public awareness of desertification increased during the severe drought in the Sahel in Africa (1968–73), a drought that accelerated the southward movement of the Sahara (desert). In 1977 the worldwide consequences of desertification were the subject of a UN Conference on Desertification (UNCOD), held in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Desertification — Désertification L aridification précède souvent la désertification La désertification est un phénomène naturel ou non qui a pour origine des variations climatiques et/ou les conséquences d activités humaines. Ce mot décrit une aridification… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • désertification — [ dezɛrtifikasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1910; de 2. désert 1 ♦ Géogr., écol. Transformation d une région en désert sous l action de facteurs climatiques ou humains. Lutte contre la désertification. 2 ♦ Fig. Disparition de toute activité humaine dans une… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • desertification — de‧sert‧i‧fi‧ca‧tion [dɪˌzɜːtfˈkeɪʆn ǁ ɜːr ] noun [uncountable] FARMING when useful land, especially farm land, becomes dry and gradually turns into a desert * * * desertification UK US /dɪˌzɜːtɪfɪˈkeɪʃən/ noun [U] ► ENVIRONMENT the process by …   Financial and business terms

  • desertification — 1973, from DESERT (Cf. desert) (n.1) + FICATION (Cf. fication). In French, désertisation is attested from 1968 …   Etymology dictionary

  • desertification — [di zʉrt΄ə fi kā′shən] n. [ DESERT2 + I + FICATION] the change of arable land into a desert either from natural causes or as a result of human activity …   English World dictionary

  • Desertification — Lake Chad in a 2001 satellite image, with the actual lake in blue. The lake has shrunk by 95% since the 1960s.[1] Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands …   Wikipedia

  • Désertification — L aridification précède souvent la désertification La désertification est un phénomène naturel ou non qui a pour origine des variations climatiques et/ou les conséquences d activités humaines. Ce mot décrit une aridification locale, reflétant la… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • desertification — /dəˌzɜtəfəˈkeɪʃən/ (say duh.zertuhfuh kayshuhn) noun the process by which once productive land in arid, semi arid and parts of the sub humid zone is turned into desert, especially by such practices as overstocking and removal of plant life which… …   Australian English dictionary

  • desertification — [[t]dɪzɜ͟ː(r)tɪfɪke͟ɪʃ(ə)n[/t]] N UNCOUNT Desertification is the process by which a piece of land becomes dry, empty, and unsuitable for growing trees or crops on. A third of Africa is under threat of desertification …   English dictionary

  • Desertification — desertifikavimas statusas Aprobuotas sritis ekologinis ūkininkavimas apibrėžtis Procedūra, kuria sertifikavimo įstaiga patvirtina, kad gaminys ar gamybos procesas nebeatitinka nustatytų reikalavimų. atitikmenys: angl. desertification; retirement… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)


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