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

  • In field tests, device harvests water from desert air
    on March 22, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    You really can extract clean drinking water right from the air, even in the driest of deserts, researchers have found. They've demonstrated a real-world version of a water-harvesting system based on metal organic frameworks, or MOFs, that they first described last year. […]

  • Flight delays: Study finds out why some African birds stay home longer
    on March 21, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Parents of millennials still living at home aren't the only ones with children that refuse to leave. Many animal species have adult offspring that are slow to take flight, but when and how they leave has been poorly understood by scientists. Now, new research on a desert-dwelling African bird is yielding some answers. […]

  • The absence of ants: Entomologist confirms first Saharan farming 10,000 years ago
    on March 16, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    By analysing a prehistoric site in the Libyan desert, a team of researchers has been able to establish that people in Saharan Africa were cultivating and storing wild cereals 10,000 years ago. In addition to revelations about early agricultural practices, there could be a lesson for the future, if global warming leads to a necessity for alternative crops. […]

  • Wind moves microinvertebrates across desert
    on March 13, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Research has yielded the first evidence of how waterborne microinvertebrates move across vast expanses of arid desert. A new study details for the first time how high desert winds disperse small invertebrates and how they colonize hydrologically disconnected basins throughout the region. […]

  • Desertification and monsoon climate change linked to shifts in ice volume and sea level
    on March 7, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    The East Asian summer monsoon and desertification in Eurasia is driven by fluctuating Northern Hemisphere ice volume and global sea level during the Ice Age, as shown in a new study. Today, two thirds of the world’s population is dependent on agriculture sustained by rains of the East Asian summer monsoon, and future climate change in this region can therefore have a major impact on global food production. […]

  • Glaciers in Mongolia's Gobi Desert actually shrank during the last ice age
    on March 6, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    High in Mongolia's Gobi Desert, the climate is so dry and cold that glaciers shrank during the last ice age. Dating of rock deposits shows how glaciers in this less-studied region behave very differently as the climate shifts. […]

  • Just conservation is where environmental issues and social justice commingle
    on March 1, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Social justice and environmental conservation are considered great values in our society. However, in some conservation efforts, conflicts arise. […]

  • Life in world's driest desert seen as sign of potential life on Mars
    on February 26, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    For the first time, researchers have seen life rebounding in the world's driest desert, demonstrating that it could also be lurking in the soils of Mars. […]

  • Extinct lakes of the American desert west
    on February 22, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    The vestiges of lakes long extinct dot the landscape of the American desert west. These fossilized landforms provide clues of how dynamic climate has been over the past few million years. […]

  • Theory suggests root efficiency, independence drove global spread of flora
    on February 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Researchers suggest that plants spread worldwide thanks to root adaptations that allowed them to become more efficient and independent. As plant species spread, roots became thinner so they could more efficiently explore poor soils for nutrients, and they shed their reliance on symbiotic fungi. The researchers report that root diameter and reliance on fungi most consistently characterize the plant communities across entire biomes such as deserts, savannas and temperate forests. […]

  • By 2100, arid cities will suffer from more severe heat waves than temperate cities
    on February 13, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    By 2100, arid cities like Phoenix will become hotbeds for heatwaves compared to their rural surroundings, while cities on the eastern seaboard will be less severely affected by heatwaves compared to theirs. The findings highlight the importance of heat-mitigation strategies and infrastructures such as green roofs. […]

  • Climate change and snowmelt -- turn up the heat, but what about humidity?
    on January 22, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Changes in humidity may determine how the contribution of snowpack to streams, lakes and groundwater changes as the climate warms. Surprisingly, cloudy, gray and humid winter days can actually cause the snowpack to warm faster, increasing the likelihood of melt during winter months when the snowpack should be growing, the authors report. In contrast, under clear skies and low humidity the snow can become colder than the air, preserving the snowpack until spring. […]

  • 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.' […]