Visualizing the land surface explains and explores the composition of the land surface and outlines how it has been studied. Dynamics of the land surface considers the dynamics affecting the earth’s land surface including its influences, processes and the changes that have occurred. Environments of the land surface looks to understand the land surface in major world regions highlighting differences between the areas. Management of the land surface is an examination of the current and future prospects of the management of the earth’s land surface.
Arid environments can conjure up an impression of deserts with sand dunes and camels! However just 25% to 30% of desert regions are covered by sand deposits; arid environments technically also include large expanses of polar desert in the Arctic and Antarctic (see Chapter 7), excluded from this chapter which focuses upon temperate and tropical deserts. Other popular images of the desert are as the home of Western films, where bleached bones can lie by alkali pools, or as static and unchanging places - whereas in fact the Sahara desert was almost completely covered by grass and shrubs as recently as 5000–6000 years ago. During the Quaternary there were times when deserts were even more extensive (Stokes et al, 1997), so that ...