Deserts and Desert Environments / Edition 1

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Taking a global perspective, this book provides a concise overview of drylands, including their physical, biological, temporal, and human components.

  • Examines the physical systems occurring in desert environments, including climate, hydrology, past and present lakes, weathering, hillslopes, geomorphic surfaces, water as a geomorphic agent, and aeolian processes
  • Offers an accessible introduction to the physical, biological, temporal, and human components of drylands
  • Investigates the nature, environmental requirements, and essential geomorphic roles of plants and animals in this stressful biological environment
  • Highlights the impact of human population growth on climate, desertification, water resources, and dust storm activity
  • Includes an examination of surface/atmosphere interactions and the impact of ENSO events.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"All chapters of the book are preceded by a short introduction, which is very useful. The book is richly illustrated in the form of both black-and-white and colour photos (but the colour figures duplicate the black-and-white ones!), graphs and diagrams . . . taken all together, the book can be recommended to graduate students and researchers dealing with deserts; sedimentology is certainly not the main topic, but much information is very useful to increase the insight into the conditions that control the sedimentological processes in this environment." (Society for Sedimentary Research, 2011)

"I would recommend Deserts and Desert Environments as a useful starting point for any undergraduate student wishing to explore a range of dryland environments and landforms for the first time. The well-illustrated and accessible nature of this text-book will suit them well". (The Geographical Journal, 1 March 2010)

"Each chapter of the book is preceded by a short introduction, which is very useful. The book is richly illustrated in the form of both black-and-white and colour photos (but the colour photos duplicate the black-and-white ones!), graphs and diagrams." (Geologos, July 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781577180333
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Series: Environmental Systems and Global Change Series, #2
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,017,442
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Laity is a Professor at California State University, Northridge, USA. Her work has focused on deserts, looking at aeolian, fluvial, and groundwater systems, and the impact of environmental degradation on wind-blown sand and dust events. Her research on groundwater-sapping systems and wind erosion has been used to aid our understanding of Martian environments.

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction: Defining the Desert System.

1.1. Defining the Desert System.

1.2. Evolution of Deserts.

1.3. Indices of Aridity.

1.4. Desert Surfaces.

1.5. Tectonically Stable and Unstable Deserts.

1.6. Deserts of the Past.

1.7. Changing Human Perspectives on Deserts.

2. Deserts of the World.

2.1. Introduction: the Extent of Global Aridity.

2.2. Global Deserts.

3. The Climatic Framework.

3.1. Introduction: Classification of Deserts by Temperature.

3.2. Weather Data.

3.3. Atmospheric Controls: Surface Boundary Layer.

3.4. Temporal and Spatial Variability of Climatic Influences.

4. The Hydrologic Framework.

4.1. Introduction.

4.2. The Water Balance in Deserts.

4.3. Water Budgets.

4.4. Surface Runoff and Floods.

4.5. The Chemical Quality of Surface and Soil Water.

4.6. Water Resources.

4.7. Case Study: the Waters of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin and the Impact of Modern Water Management.

5. Lake Systems: Past and Present.

5.1. Introduction to Desert Lakes.

5.2. Types of Lake.

5.3. Lakes of the Global Arid Environment.

6. Weathering Processes and Hillslope Systems.

6.1. Introduction.

6.2. Weathering.

6.3. Weathering Forms.

6.4. Duricrusts.

6.5. Desert Varnish.

6.6. Hillslope Processes.

6.7. Composite Surfaces (Pediments).

7. Desert Soils and Geomorphic Surfaces.

7.1. Introduction.

7.2. The Nature of Soils in Arid and Semiarid Regions.

7.3. Soil Description and Classification.

7.4. Soil Characteristics of Arid Regions.

7.5. Inorganic and Biological Soil Crusts.

7.6. Spatial Heterogeneity in Soil Properties and the Ecohydrology of Patterned Vegetation Zones.

7.7. Surface Volume Changes.

7.8. Surface Types: Hamada and Stone Pavements.

8. Water as a Geomorphic Agent.

8.1. Introduction.

8.2. Groundwater Sapping in Slope and Valley Development.

8.3. Piping Processes in Channel and Slope Evolution.

8.4. Fluvial Processes.

8.5. Fluvial Landforms.

9. Aeolian Processes.

9.1. Introduction.

9.2. Near-surface Flow.

9.3. Wind Processes.

9.4. Landforms of Accumulation: Sand Sheets, Zibar, and Sand Stringers.

9.5. Landforms of Accumulation: Dunes.

9.6. Ripples.

10. Landforms of Aeolian Erosion and Desert Dust.

10.1. Introduction.

10.2. Deflation Features: Desert Depressions and Pans.

10.3. Ventifacts.

10.4. Yardangs and Ridge and Swale Systems.

10.5. Desert Dust.

11. Plant communities and their Geomorphic Impacts.

11.1. Introduction: Characteristics of Desert Ecosystems.

11.2. Adaptations to Desert Conditions.

11.3. Plant Communities and Ecotones.

11.4. Succession in Desert Plant Communities.

11.5. Dune Communities.

11.6. Vegetation Type and Density and Relationship to Geomorphic Processes.

12. Animal Communities.

12.1. Introduction: Environmental Requirements.

12.2. Effects on Geomorphic Processes.

12.3. Hydrologic Impacts.

12.4. Effects of the Geomorphic Activity of Animals on Plant Communities.

13. Desertification and the Human Dimension.

13.1. Desertification: Introduction and Terminology.

13.2. Climate Change and Desertification.

13.3. Anthropogenic Causes of Desertification.

13.4. Water Resources: a Rural and Urban Problem.

13.5. Case Study: the Aral Sea.

13.6. Discussion.


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