Desert News -- ScienceDaily Read all about the desert biome, including articles on desertification, semi-arid conditions and more.

  • In Antarctic dry valleys, early signs of climate change-induced shifts in soil
    on January 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    In a study spanning two decades, a team of researchers found declining numbers of soil fauna, nematodes and other animal species in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the world's driest and coldest deserts. […]

  • Did ancient irrigation technology travel Silk Road?
    on January 4, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    Using satellite imaging and drone reconnaissance, archaeologists have discovered an ancient irrigation system that allowed a farming community in northwestern China to raise livestock and cultivate crops in one of the world's driest desert climates. […]

  • Study predicts a significantly drier world at 2ºC
    on January 1, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    New research predicts a significantly drier world if global warming reaches 2ºC. Over a quarter of the world's land could become significantly drier and the change would cause an increased threat of drought and wildfires. Limiting warming to under 1.5ºC would dramatically reduce the fraction of the Earth's surface that undergoes such changes. Areas which would most benefit from keeping warming below 1.5ºC include Central America, Southern Europe, Southern Australia, parts of South East Asia, and Southern Africa. […]

  • How much can late Permian ecosystems tell us about modern Earth? A lot
    on December 11, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    New paleontological research shows that during the late Permian, the equator was dry and desert-like, yet surprisingly a hotspot for biodiversity. Similarly to modern rainforests, equator ecosystems were home to a unique diversity of species, including those both anciently and newly evolved. After the late Permian extinction, this diversity was decimated, and the climate change event that triggered an extinction back then is informative as we move forward with protecting our planet's species diversity. […]

  • Slight climate shifts can affect optimum water use in plant communities
    on November 20, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    A new discovery is providing scientists a better understanding of how rainfall is shared beneficially by the plant community and the human population, in addition to the effects of climate change. […]

  • What makes soil, soil? Researchers find hidden clues in DNA
    on November 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Ever wondered what makes a soil, soil? And could soil from the Amazon rainforest really be the same as soil from your garden? […]

  • A sub-desert savanna spread across Madrid 14 million years ago
    on November 17, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    The current landscape of Madrid city and its vicinity was really different 14 million years ago. A semi-desert savanna has been inferred for the center of the Iberian Peninsula in the middle Miocene. This ecosystem was characterized by a very arid tropical climatic regime with up to ten months of drought per year, according to a recent paper. Scientists reached such conclusions after comparing mammal fauna with Africa and Asia ones. […]

  • Feral animals pose major threat to Outback, climate change study finds
    on November 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    A study of changing rainfall and wildfire patterns over 22 years in Australia's Simpson Desert has found - in addition to a likely climate-induced decrease in cover of the dominant plant spinifex - introduced cats and foxes pose a major threat to seed-eating rodents. […]

  • Rainfall trends in arid regions buck commonly held climate change theories
    on October 12, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    To explore the links between climatic warming and rainfall in drylands, scientists analysed more than 50 years of detailed rainfall data (measured every minute) from a semi-arid drainage basin in south east Arizona exhibiting an upward trend in temperatures during that period. […]

  • Scientists complete conservation puzzle, shaping understanding of life on Earth
    on October 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    An international team of scientists has completed the 'atlas of life' -- the first global review and map of every vertebrate on Earth. The 39 scientists have produced a catalogue and atlas of the world's reptiles. By linking this atlas with existing maps for birds, mammals and amphibians, the team have found many new areas where conservation action is vital. […]

  • A cereal crop survives heat and drought
    on September 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Scientists have published the genome sequence of Pearl millet, a drought resistant crop plant most important in arid regions in Africa and Asia. This plant is important to small and medium farmers who grow the plant without larger irrigation. Pearl millet delivers a good harvest index under drought and heat conditions when rice, maize or wheat already have no grains anymore. […]

  • Devilish source of dust in atmosphere of Earth and Mars
    on September 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Swirling columns of sand and dust, known as dust devils, are a feature of desert areas on Mars and on Earth. Now, a study of terrestrial dust devils has shown that around two thirds of the fine particles lifted by these vortices can remain suspended in the atmosphere and be transported around the globe. The findings have implications for the climate and weather of both planets and, potentially, human health here on Earth. […]

  • Desert locusts: New risks in the light of climate change
    on September 11, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    The desert locust is an invasive species that is both well known and feared because of the large-scale agricultural damage it can cause. It is particularly closely monitored, to prevent the risks of outbreaks and invasions. Climate change could modify its distribution area, meaning a new threat to agriculture, according to a study. […]

  • The sand trap: Demand outpaces caution, knowledge
    on September 7, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Sand, spanning miles of beaches, carpeting vast oceans and deserts, is a visual metaphor for limitless resources. Yet seize another metaphor -- sand in an hourglass, marking time running out. […]

  • Pinpointing the sources of trans-pacific dust
    on August 31, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Airborne dust from Asia travels across the Pacific passport-free, carrying pollution, building soil, and coloring sunsets thousands of miles from its source. Identifying that source is important for understanding atmospheric circulation, contaminant pathways, and climate. But collecting enough airborne dust to pinpoint its source is challenging. Now, a team of researchers has developed a way to match microscopic quartz grains to the desert they blew in from. […]

  • Some birds better than others at adjusting to habitat degradation
    on August 30, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Before habitat degradation begins to cause population declines, the first response by wildlife usually comes in the form of behavioral changes -- for example, switching their diets in response to changes in food availability. A new study looks at the diets of seed-eating birds in a South American desert and finds that while some can switch between seed types when grazing alters local plant communities, others continue to stick to old favorites, limiting their options. […]

  • Dust deposits give new insights into the history of the Sahara
    on July 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Remote Saharan dust influences Earth's radiation budget and tropical North Atlantic ocean-atmosphere temperature variability that might even attenuate Hurricane activity. In a new research study an international team of geoscientists reconstructed the history of Saharan dust storms during the last 12,000 years. The researchers identified several millennial-scale phases of enhanced Saharan dust supplies during the transition of the former 'green Sahara' to the present-day hyper-arid desert. […]

  • Using treated graywater for irrigation is better for arid environments
    on July 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

    'This condition, called 'graywater-induced hydrophobicity,' is likely temporary and disappears quickly following rainwater or freshwater irrigation events,' says a researcher. 'However, it is a more significant concern in arid lands with negligible rainfall as compared with wetter regions.' […]

  • Unlocking the secrets of the Sahara
    on July 7, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    A peat bog in Romania provides a new insight into our knowledge of when the Sahara began to transform from grassland into the desert we know today, and the impact this had on dust deposition within Eastern Europe. […]

  • Know your enemy: Exposing threatened species to predators improves evasive behaviors
    on July 5, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    A study of burrowing bettongs in the Australian desert has shown for the first time that exposing threatened native animals to small numbers of predators in the wild teaches them how to avoid their enemies. The new findings could assist in the successful reintroduction of bettongs back onto the mainland. […]

  • The dust storm microbiome
    on June 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    The airborne dust carried in sand storms affects the health of people and ecosystems alike. New research suggests that part of the effect might not be in the particles of dust but rather in bacteria that cling to them, traveling many kilometers in the air with the storms. […]

  • Dryland cropping systems research addresses future drought and hunger issues
    on June 16, 2017 at 1:37 am

    The projected world population by 2056 is 10 billion. If researchers succeed in improving the yield potential of 40 percent of global land area under arid and semi-arid conditions, it will lead to a significant contribution to future food security. […]

  • Sahara greening may intensify tropical cyclone activity worldwide
    on June 8, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Future climate warming could lead to a re-greening of the southernmost Sahara (Sahel), with decreased dust emissions and changes in land cover. In a recent study, researchers have found that tropical cyclone activity may have increased during past warm climates in connection with a greening of the Sahara. […]

  • Increased leaf abundance is a double-edged sword
    on May 25, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    A new global assessment reveals that increases in leaf abundance are causing boreal areas to warm and arid regions to cool. The results suggest that recent changes in global vegetation have had impacts on local climates that should be considered in the design of local mitigation and adaptation plans. […]

  • Summer rainfall in vulnerable African region can be predicted
    on May 25, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Summer rainfall in one of the world's most drought-prone regions can now be predicted months or years in advance, climate scientists say. […]

  • Metals from Bolivian mines affect crops and pose potential health risk, study suggests
    on May 24, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Exposure to trace metals from potatoes grown in soil irrigated with waters from the Potosi mining region in Bolivia, home to the world's largest silver deposit, may put residents at risk of non-cancer health illnesses, researchers warn. […]

  • Increasing aridity and land-use overlap have potential to cause social and economic conflict in...
    on May 23, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Drylands are of environmental concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world's human population, suggests new research. […]

  • New tool could help predict, prevent surging waters in flood plains
    on May 12, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    A group of international scientists studying China's Yellow River has created a new tool that could help officials better predict and prevent its all-too-frequent floods, which threaten as many as 80 million. […]

  • More natural dust in the air improves air quality in eastern China
    on May 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Human-made pollution in eastern China's cities worsens when less dust blows in from the Gobi Desert, according to a new study. That's because dust plays an important role in determining the air temperatures and thereby promoting winds to blow away human-made pollution. Less dust means the air stagnates, with human-made pollution becoming more concentrated and sticking around longer. […]

  • Global warming accounts for tripling of extreme West African Sahel storms
    on April 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Global warming is responsible for a tripling in the frequency of extreme West African Sahel storms observed in just the last 35 years, an international team of experts has reported. […]