Expanding Deserts


Landscapes at the Jornada LTER site show complex patterns related to vectors that redistribute resources: water flows from small mountain ranges to the basin (lower left), wind moves soil and nutrients (upper right), cattle concentrate impacts near water sources (center), and human activities occur on-site via roads (center) and on adjacent private land (lower right).

USDA ARS, Jornada Experimental Range archive

Desertification is the shift from perennial grasslands to shrublands that occurs globally to impact nearly 40% of the Earth’s land surface and a fifth of the world’s human population. Desertification results from interactions between human activities (such as livestock overgrazing) and prolonged drought. However, these broad-scale drivers are insufficient to explain variability in dynamics at finer scales. Long-term research at the JRN is providing new insights in understanding spatial and temporal variability in the causes and consequences of desertification.


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