Hot Arid And Semi Arid Environments

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Course synopsis

The course will investigate the increasing importance and significance of the study of hot arid and semi-arid environments in geographical and climatological disciplines. The course will start with the basics of climate in arid environments, which is fundamental in the understanding of the geomorphological processes and landforms in those environments. The processes of erosion, transport and deposition and associated landforms will be studied.  The ecosystems and vegetation of deserts, and how they relate to climate will be discussed before finally looking at the sustainable management of arid and semi – arid areas.

Week 1 commences 9 January 2024

Hot arid and semi-arid climates Global distribution and climatic characteristics of hot arid and semi-arid environments. Definitions and causes of aridity: pressure and wind systems, influence of ocean currents, rain shadow effect.

Week 2

The key features of hot arid and semi-arid environments: high wind energy environments, diurnal and seasonal variations in precipitation and temperature.

Weeks 2 and 3

Landforms of hot arid and semi-arid environments Weathering processes: thermal fracture, exfoliation, salt weathering, chemical weathering, and their effects. Processes of erosion, transport and deposition by wind: corrasion/abrasion, deflation, traction, saltation, and suspension.

Weeks 4 and 5

Erosion, transport and deposition by water action: hydrological regime, episodic rainfall, sheet and flash floods. Characteristic landforms: sand dunes, wind sculptured rocks (yardang, zeugen), wadis, alluvial fans, arroyos, pediments, and piedmont zone (bahadas, playas, salt lakes, inselbergs).


Week 6

Relative roles of aeolian and fluvial processes: evidence for past climate change (Pleistocene pluvials), and the role of past processes in the development of landforms.

Weeks 7 and 8

Soils and vegetation Vegetation: biomass productivity (biodiversity, limited nutrient cycling, fragility), adaptation of plants to extreme temperatures, physical and physiological drought. Soils processes: upward capillary movement of water and minerals (salinisation).

Week 9

The process of desertification (both natural and human factors) leading to the degradation of soils and vegetation in semi-arid environments.

Week 10

Sustainable management of hot arid and semi-arid environments Case study

Please note this course begins 9 January 2024

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About the teacher

John King

I am a semi retired Head of Geography who has taught in Secondary Education for 32 years at 4 different schools. I established a keen interest in weather forecasting...

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