Baring High-Albedo Soils by Overgrazing: A Hypothesized Desertification Mechanism

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Science  08 Nov 1974:
Vol. 186, Issue 4163, pp. 531-533
DOI: 10.1126/science.186.4163.531


Observations are reported of high-albedo soils denuded by overgrazing which appear bright, in high contrast to regions covered by natural vegetation. Measurements and modeling show that the denuded surfaces are cooler, when compared under sunlit conditions. This observed "thermal depression" eflect should, on theoretical grounds, result in a decreased lifting of air necessary for cloud formation and precipitation, and thus lead to regional climatic desertification.