Desertification Definition

by Laurent Cousineau

Desertification is an effect of climate change

Desertification is an effect of climate change

Desertification is the degradation of land that could be used for agriculture or habitats, and is one of the most important environmental problems we are facing today.

It is categorized by a diminishing groundwater table, increasing erosion, the disappearance of native vegetation, a decrease in surface water, and a salt build-up in water and topsoil (the upper fertile layer of soil, from which plant roots take nutrients).

Where Does it Occur?

Often, it occurs in arid or semi-arid environments and consists of long-term changes to plant life, vegetation and soil.

Desertification should not be confused with droughts which have only short-term effects (but may also be a cause of the former).

The Causes of Desertification

Desertification is primarily an effect of climate change, and human activities namely:
  • Overgrazing in pastures
  • Over cropping (often done for exports)
  • Deforestation
  • Poorly managed irrigation systems (this leads to salinization, a build-up of mineral salts in the soil)
  • Exhaustion of water supplies for industrial use

The Effects of Desertification

In turn, desertification will have several effects including:
  • Famine
  • Wars for natural resources
  • Mass migration
  • Reduction of biodiversity
  • Increased risk of droughts and flooding
  • In some cases, barren land that are beyond restoration (permanent damage to soil)

Comments for Desertification Definition

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 23, 2015
by: Erick Garavito

Respecto a la desertificación tenemos clara evidencia de la llegada de arena del desierto del Sahara a Centro América, es curioso la gran distancia que viajo la arena hasta llegar ha esta región que nunca se habían emitido alertas de precaución para las personas susceptibles a la polución. Se puede decir que esto es parte del cambio climático... que el desierto ha estado aumentando de área... o es solo algo al azar por las condiciones climáticas imperantes de la época en esta región ya que se esta bajo efectos de el fenómeno de El Niño. Gracias.

Nov 24, 2013
by: Anonymous

:( scary indeed. We take steps at our level, and push and vote for the leaders that will do the same. Now if everyone did it, we'd be golden.

Jan 05, 2013
by: rilyn grace

Thanks, this really helps!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Climate Change Glossary.

Return to Top of Page  

Like This Page?

Recent Articles

  1. Interview With Jonah Bryson: "If we fail to protect the environment, nothing else matters"

    Nov 07, 16 12:21 AM

    We had the chance to speak with Film Director, Musician and Conservationist Jonah Bryson during TIFF 2016. Bryson has directed “The Fight For Bala”, a

    Read More

  2. Climate is Back

    Nov 07, 16 12:19 AM

    As I engage relentlessly in the fight to mobilize a complacent public and encourage reluctant politicians to focus on climate change action, I’ve come

    Read More

  3. Politicians Need to Break Free From Fossil Fuels

    Nov 06, 16 11:39 PM

    It’s time to break free from fossil fuels! It’s not time to promote pipelines and expand tar sands production in an attempt to create short-term jobs.

    Read More

  4. The Tides They Are A Changin'

    Nov 06, 16 11:18 PM

    We are really screwing up the Earth, and not having another one handy we need to get the message out to change our ways before it's too late. We cannot

    Read More

  5. Dying for Your Planet

    Oct 30, 16 02:51 PM

    Have you ever thought about what you value so much that you'd be willing to die for? What immediately comes to my mind is that I would do anything to keep

    Read More

Alternative Energy








How to Help


Important News

Sign a Petition!