Desertification Threatens 38% of World's Surface

With water in increasing demand and unsustainable land use patterns threatening supplies, a new report claims that nearly 40% of the earth's surface is arid and in danger of desertification.
February 11, 2010, 10am PST | Nate Berg
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"The research, published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, is the first study in the world to include the impact of desertification in the LCA, based on classifying 15 natural areas or "eco-regions" according to their degree of aridity. By simultaneously using the LCA and a Geographic Information System (GIS), the researchers have shown that eight of these 15 areas can be classified as at risk of desertification, representing 38% of the land surface of the world.

The eight natural areas at risk are coastal areas, the Prairies, the Mediterranean region, the savannah, the temperate Steppes, the temperate deserts, tropical and subtropical Steppes, and the tropical and subtropical deserts."

Four factors -- aridity, erosion, over-exploitation of aquifers and risk of fire -- were used to determine how threatened each geographical area is to desertification. The Life Cycle Analysis was also used to determine the impact of human development on these areas.

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Published on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 in Science Daily
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