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

  • Think about bees, say researchers, as Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument Shrinks
    on December 4, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    A year ago, President Donald Trump announced his intention to reduce the size of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which Utah State University researchers say is a hotspot for bee biodiversity. The entomologists urge federal agencies to consider the pollinators in management plans, going forward, for the monument. […]

  • Understanding the dynamics of dune formation
    on November 26, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Studies by Brazilian researchers could have applications in crude oil pumping and missions to Mars, among others. […]

  • Scientists study puncture performance of cactus spines
    on November 21, 2018 at 2:16 am

    The same traits that allow barbed cactus spines to readily penetrate animal flesh also make the spines more difficult to dislodge, a new study finds. The microscopic barbs on the spines are layered like shingles and sized perfectly to snag muscle and collagen fibers. When testing the anchoring power of various spines, the researchers discovered that a single cholla spine could hoist a half-pound hank of pork shoulder. […]

  • For arid, Mars-like Peruvian desert, rain brings death
    on November 14, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    When rains fell on the arid Atacama Desert, it was reasonable to expect floral blooms to follow. Instead, the water brought death. Planetary astrobiologists has found that after encountering never-before-seen rainfall three years ago at the arid core of Peru's Atacama Desert, the heavy precipitation wiped out most of the microbes that had lived there. […]

  • Nutrient-recycling microbes may feel the heat
    on November 5, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    While microbial communities are the engines driving the breakdown of dead plants and animals, little is known about whether they are equipped to handle big changes in climate. In a new study, researchers examine what happens after microbial communities move into new climate conditions. The study is a first step toward understanding the vulnerability of these ecosystems to climate change. […]

  • Climate change: US desert areas to become even drier
    on October 24, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Geologists study rainfall patterns in the distant past to better understand how deserts in the southwest United States will be impacted by future climate change. […]

  • Antarctic ice shelf 'sings' as winds whip across its surface
    on October 16, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Winds blowing across snow dunes on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf cause the massive ice slab's surface to vibrate, producing a near-constant set of seismic 'tones' scientists could potentially use to monitor changes in the ice shelf from afar, according to new research. […]

  • Changes in polar jet circulation bring more dust from Sahara Desert to the Arctic
    on October 10, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Poleward transport of warm, moist, and dust-laden air masses from the Sahara Desert results in ice melting in southeast Greenland, scientists have found. […]

  • Indigenous fire practice protecting the Gibson Desert's biodiversity
    on October 10, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Traditional indigenous burning practices are protecting plant biodiversity in Australia's Gibson Desert, according to new research. The study analyzed how environments dominated by flammable spinifex grasses and fire-sensitive desert myrtle shrubs reacted to wildfires, and to the low-intensity burning practices of the Pintupi people. […]

  • Rapid, widespread changes may be coming to Antarctica's Dry Valleys
    on October 9, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Antarctica's sandy polar desert, the McMurdo Dry Valleys, has undergone changes over the past decade and the recent discovery of thawing permafrost, thinning glaciers and melting ground ice by a research team are signs that rapid and widespread change could be on the horizon. […]

  • Feeding ants dopamine might make them smarter foragers
    on September 27, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    In an ant colony, few tasks are as important as gathering food. But the desert heat can pose a challenge for an ant on foraging duty. Recent findings show how dopamine may influence the behavior of ant foragers in the desert. […]

  • By Jove! Methane's effects on sunlight vary by region
    on September 26, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Solar energy absorption by methane is 10 times stronger over desert regions such as the Sahara Desert and Arabian Peninsula than elsewhere on Earth, and nearly three times more powerful in the presence of clouds. Researchers came to this conclusion after evaluating observations of Jupiter and Saturn's moon Titan. […]

  • Tropics are widening as predicted by climate models, research finds
    on September 17, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Scientists have observed for years that Earth's tropics are widening in connection with complex changes in climate and weather patterns. But in recent years, it appeared the widening was outpacing what models predicted, suggesting other factors were at work. But a new paper finds that the most up-to-date models and the best data match up reasonably well. […]

  • Low-severity wildfires impact soils more than previously believed
    on September 10, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Low-severity wildland fires and prescribed burns have long been presumed by scientists and resource managers to be harmless to soils, but this may not be the case, new research shows. According to two new studies, low-severity burns cause damage to soil structure and organic matter in ways that are not immediately apparent after a fire. […]

  • Adaptable lizards illustrate key evolutionary process proposed a century ago
    on September 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    The 'Baldwin effect' has now been demonstrated at the genetic level in a population of dark-colored lizards adapted to live on a lava flow in the desert. […]

  • Large wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetation
    on September 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial -- or detrimental -- to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region. […]

  • Mud from the deep sea reveals clues about ancient monsoon
    on September 3, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    The Sonoran Desert is one of the world's most biodiverse deserts, thanks to the annual monsoon, which provide a source of moisture in addition to seasonal winter rains. Researchers were able to access untapped clues about the monsoon's activity during the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago. Their findings help scientists predict how regional climates may respond to future conditions. […]

  • Guiding flight: The fruit fly's celestial compass
    on August 30, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Fruit flies use the sun to avoid flying in circles, according to new research. […]

  • Portable freshwater harvester could draw up to 10 gallons per hour from the air
    on August 21, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    For thousands of years, people in the Middle East and South America have extracted water from the air to help sustain their populations. Drawing inspiration from those examples, researchers are now developing a lightweight, battery-powered freshwater harvester that could someday take as much as 10 gallons per hour from the air, even in arid locations. […]

  • Does rain follow the plow?
    on August 10, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    There are many factors that play a role in whether or not it rains, and new research shows that human activity may be one of them. […]

  • Mojave Desert birds crashed over the last century due to climate change
    on August 7, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    More than 100 years ago, biologists conducted a thorough survey of birds in the Mojave Desert. A recent resurvey shows that the species richness of the desert habitat has dropped by 43 percent over the past century, on average, at the sites revisited. The main environmental change correlated with bird decline was a decrease in rainfall caused by climate change, which suggests that temporary sources of water might help prevent further decline. […]

  • Monsoon rains found to be beneficial to underground aquifers
    on August 1, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Using a combination of field instrumentation, unmanned aerial vehicles and a hydrologic model, a team of researchers has been studying the fate of monsoon rainfall and its impact on groundwater recharge in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico. […]

  • Dust carried by rainwater across Texas: Study sheds light on composition
    on July 10, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Across the US Southwest, severe drought and land?use change are projected to increase in the future, contributing to more frequent and intense dust storms and eventually dry dust fallout and dust washout from the atmosphere with rain. How will Dust Bowl-like conditions affect raining dust events? […]

  • Mars valleys traced back to precipitation
    on June 28, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    The valley networks of Mars bear a strong resemblance to those found in arid landscapes on Earth. Researchers have been able to demonstrate this using the branching angles of river valley confluences. Based on these observations, they infer that Mars once had a primeval climate in which sporadic heavy precipitation eroded valleys. […]

  • New World Atlas of Desertification shows unprecedented pressure on planet's resources
    on June 21, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    The World Desertification Atlas by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre provides the first comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of land degradation at a global level and highlights the urgency to adopt corrective measures. […]

  • Painted lady's roundtrip migratory flight is the longest recorded in butterflies
    on June 13, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Researchers found that painted lady butterflies return from the Afrotropical region to recolonize the Mediterranean in early spring, traveling an annual distance of 12,000 km across the Sahara Desert. […]

  • In desert trials, next-generation water harvester delivers fresh water from air
    on June 9, 2018 at 12:01 am

    Scientists who last year built a prototype harvester to extract water from the air using only the power of the sun have scaled up the device to see how much water they can capture in arid conditions in Arizona. Using a kilogram of MOF, they were able to capture about 7 ounces of water from low-humidity air each 24-hour day/night cycle. A new and cheaper MOF could double that. […]

  • Desert bighorn sheep are crossing Interstate 40 in California
    on June 6, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Desert bighorn sheep are able to climb steep, rocky terrain with speed and agility. New research shows that they can cross a four-lane highway. […]

  • Some desert creatures may be able to cope with climate change better than expected
    on May 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Ecologists have no doubt that climate change will affect the earth's animals and plants. But how exactly? This is often hard to predict. There are already indications that some species are shifting their distribution range. But it is much less clear how individual animals and populations are responding to the changes. Scientists have been studying nocturnal desert geckos to see how they are adapting to climatic changes. […]

  • Explaining the history of Australia's vegetation
    on May 17, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    New research has uncovered the history of when and why the native vegetation that today dominates much of Australia first expanded across the continent. […]