Blog Action Day: Desert Ecosystems

I had been thinking for a couple of weeks on what topic I should write about for this upcoming Blog Action Day, which is today, when quite out of the blue I was talking to my friend Alex and we managed to stumble onto the obscure topic of desert ecosystems. The fact that they might be able to change if exposed to an unnatural amount of water or an alternating wind current in a varying time frame was a very appealing topic. So it looks like I have an off the wall topic but I say its close enough to be considered climate-related and this is what I will talk about.

First what my issue of discussion is — Are desert ecosystems changing at all? If they are, is it for better or for worse? If for worse, can we reverse course?

Let me just start by saying I am no expert on desert discussions. I had not even read anything on the matter until earlier yesterday and then all of a sudden I’m talking to someone about it. That’s just how things go sometimes. Given that, I think it is very fair to say that desert ecosystems are constantly changing all the time. Until only a few years back, we did not really know how the desert ecosystem interacted with others and what impact this has had on local environments.

That all changed when scientists at the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology conducted a study between these ecosystems back in 2004 which analyzed said impacts on climate change and its effect on the ecosystem. One of the main things it noted was that as much of an effect water may have on the environment and the fertility level of the ground, not enough attention is paid on wind currents and dust being blown into these areas which drain the ground of a lot of its nutrients.

Wind erosion, as it is called, is a considered a very fundamental process in systematic changes for ecosystem through the transportation of dust which have the ability to affect the entire planet. Understanding the dire consequences of such wind erosion on vegetation and soils will play a vital role in our understanding of the ecosystems at play. To an extent, these particles are any dust and sand particles that travel through the air as a part of the wind erosion. They have the ability to drain the nutrients and certainly over time can dry up an entire region of its vegetation.

Although that is a very basic summary of how wind erosion may affect the desert ecosystem, one question that lingers in my mind is can there be a reverse course using similar methods? Hypothetically, if the wind current were to shift patterns where these depleting nutrients were carried out, would that make way for non-desert-like vegetation to survive in such conditions? Can enough water accumulate over time to allow for such growth and drastic change in the environment?

Obviously, I am not knowledgeable enough to answer that question but I would think such a thing would be possible — whether it is naturally done by Mother Nature or by the ways of human-intervention to change course in an ecosystem.

Anyone who knows anything about this topic is more than welcome to correct me on anything I said, any assumption I made and certainly please enlighten me on the topic as I would love to learn more.

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