Academic Master

Environmental Science

Cause, Effects and Problem of the Global Desertification


Farming has its origin since the birth of first human being on the earth (Schlesinger et al., 1990). Currently about 1/3 part of the earth is comprised of the desert and semi desert land (De Pinto et al., 2017). In China, about 30 percent of the land is becoming to the desert every year due to the process of desertification (Guan, He, Li, Yin, & Qiu, 2017).

Importance of the Topic

  • Desertification is the process in which productive land has been converted into non-productive land (Nicholson, Tucker, & Ba, 1998).
  • It is mainly caused by the behavior of the mankind and the impacts of global warming on the planet (Bao et al., 2017).
  • The topic is of significant because if the less land is available for production then there will be less food that resulted to the problem towards food security (Bestelmeyer et al., 2015).

Objective of the Study

The current study will highlight the causes and problem causing the process of global desertification and also discuss the impact of desertification all around the globe respectively (von Hardenberg, Meron, Shachak, & Zarmi, 2001).

Causes of Desertification

There are two major global causes of desertification as under:

  • Overgrazing: The number of farm animals are increasing at the higher rate those results in more grazing. It leads to the process of desertification (Reynolds et al., 2007).
  • Deforestation: The world human population is increasing at the higher rate. People needs more space on the land to build their house and other infrastructure (Park et al., 2018). The cities are expanding at the larger rate. This results in reduction of the land available for cultivation. The total forest land is decreasing and causing the desertification of the Earth (Zanchetta, Bitelli, & Karnieli, 2016).

Global Effects of Desertification

Desertification has very serious impacts at the Global level those are as under:

  • Migration: A large number of the people are moving from rural to urban areas due to the negative effect of desertification. For example, the migration of Mexico to USA is all because of the desertification (Symeonakis, Karathanasis, Koukoulas, & Panagopoulos, 2016).
  • Dust Storms: The desertification is the major cause of the global dust storm that is affecting the health of the people mainly young people. For example, There is a dust storm is China for about three weeks and it has caused closing of the roads, railways airports and hospitals respectively (Wang, Sun, Fu, Xu, & Wang, 2017).
  • Global Food Security: The desertification is also a major cause for the global food crises (Berdugo, Kéfi, Soliveres, & Maestre, 2017).

Regional Effect of Desertification

Desertification also have negative serious impacts at the local level those are as under:

  • People in rural areas have more floods and they are also forced to migrate toward cities.
  • There are about 2 billion people are living in the rural areas mainly from the developing economies are getting effected because they are highly dependent on agriculture for their survival (Geist, 2017).


  • The current study has examined the cause and effects of the global desertification. There are many causes of desertification but high rate of the population growth is the major cause of global desertification (Bastin et al., 2017).
  • It has causes the huge migration and results in overcrowding in the cities.
  • It also results in abnormal changes in the climate like floods and dust storms.


  • Desertification is a serious issue and should need special attention because it is not only the problem of developing economies but for all economies of the globe (Kéfi et al., 2007).


  • It is needed to look for the possible measure those should be cheap
  • There should be alternative methods for the energy to avoid the rapid cutting of tress.
  • Scientist must develop techniques to restore deserts into productive land.


Bao, Y., Cheng, L., Bao, Y., Yang, L., Jiang, L., Long, C., … Lu, Q. (2017). Desertification: China provides a solution to a global challenge. Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering, 4(4), 402–413.

Bastin, J.-F., Berrahmouni, N., Grainger, A., Maniatis, D., Mollicone, D., Moore, R., … Abraham, E. M. (2017). The extent of forest in dryland biomes. Science, 356(6338), 635–638.

Berdugo, M., Kéfi, S., Soliveres, S., & Maestre, F. T. (2017). Plant spatial patterns identify alternative ecosystem multifunctionality states in global drylands. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1(2), 0003.

Bestelmeyer, B. T., Okin, G. S., Duniway, M. C., Archer, S. R., Sayre, N. F., Williamson, J. C., & Herrick, J. E. (2015). Desertification, land use, and the transformation of global drylands. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 13(1), 28–36.

De Pinto, A., Robertson, R., Begeladze, S., Kumar, C., Kwon, H.-Y., Thomas, T., … Koo, J. (2017). Cropland Restoration as an Essential Component to the Forest Landscape Restoration Approach—Global Effects of Wide-Scale Adoption.

Geist, H. (2017). The causes and progression of desertification. Routledge.

Guan, Y., He, B., Li, X., Yin, C., & Qiu, S. (2017). Desertification assessment and trend analysis using modis data. In Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 2017 IEEE International (pp. 5739–5742). IEEE.

Kéfi, S., Rietkerk, M., Alados, C. L., Pueyo, Y., Papanastasis, V. P., ElAich, A., & De Ruiter, P. C. (2007). Spatial vegetation patterns and imminent desertification in Mediterranean arid ecosystems. Nature, 449(7159), 213.

Nicholson, S. E., Tucker, C. J., & Ba, M. B. (1998). Desertification, drought, and surface vegetation: an example from the West African Sahel. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 79(5), 815–829.

Park, C.-E., Jeong, S.-J., Joshi, M., Osborn, T. J., Ho, C.-H., Piao, S., … Park, H. (2018). Keeping global warming within 1.5° C constrains emergence of aridification. Nature Climate Change, 1.

Reynolds, J. F., Smith, D. M. S., Lambin, E. F., Turner, B. L., Mortimore, M., Batterbury, S. P., … Herrick, J. E. (2007). Global desertification: building a science for dryland development. Science, 316(5826), 847–851.

Schlesinger, W. H., Reynolds, J. F., Cunningham, G. L., Huenneke, L. F., Jarrell, W. M., Virginia, R. A., & Whitford, W. G. (1990). Biological feedbacks in global desertification. Science, 247(4946), 1043–1048.

Symeonakis, E., Karathanasis, N., Koukoulas, S., & Panagopoulos, G. (2016). Monitoring sensitivity to land degradation and desertification with the environmentally sensitive area index: The case of lesvos island. Land Degradation & Development, 27(6), 1562–1573.

von Hardenberg, J., Meron, E., Shachak, M., & Zarmi, Y. (2001). Diversity of vegetation patterns and desertification. Physical Review Letters, 87(19), 198101.

Wang, J., Sun, T., Fu, A., Xu, H., & Wang, X. (2017). Optimization of the time series NDVI-rainfall relationship using linear mixed-effects modeling for the anti-desertification area in the Beijing and Tianjin sandstorm source region. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 1–11.

Zanchetta, A., Bitelli, G., & Karnieli, A. (2016). Monitoring desertification by remote sensing using the Tasselled Cap transform for long-term change detection. Natural Hazards, 83(1), 223–237.



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