1987 Edition

Arid climates

  • R. W. Durrenberger
Reference work entry

More than one-third of the Earth's surface lacks sufficient moisture to support a continuous cover of vegetation, and in the dryer portions of the arid zone, vast areas are without vegetation. However, on the margins of the deserts, in the steppe and savannah regions of the world, grasslands support abundant herds of domestic and wild animals, and humans have introduced domesticated plants. It is along the desert margins that human have tested nature by encroaching on areas best left in their natural state. One of the problems in assigning precise boundaries to the lands of the arid realm is that slight changes of climate in such fragile environments may result in widespread changes in nature and in human-environment relationships. Conversely, changes that humans makes in the environment may result in changes in climate. Thus, the boundaries of the arid realm cannot be delineated by narrow lines drawn on a map—they represent broad zones in which xeric vegetation types merge gradually...

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© Van Nostrand Reinhold 1987

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  • R. W. Durrenberger

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