A desert is a barren area of land where little precipitation occurs and consequently living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life.
Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera.
In meteorology, precipitation is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity.
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The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation.
In geology, denudation involves the processes that cause the wearing away of the Earth's surface by moving water, by ice, by wind and by waves, leading to a reduction in elevation and in relief of landforms and of landscapes.
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About one third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid.
A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life.
This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called polar deserts or "cold deserts".
In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics, human impact characteristics, and the interaction of humanity and the environment.
Polar deserts are the regions of the Earth that fall under an ice cap climate.
Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.
Desertification is a type of land degradation in which a relatively dry area of land becomes a desert, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife.
Deserts are formed by weathering processes as large variations in temperature between day and night put strains on the rocks which consequently break in pieces.
Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soil, and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere, water, and biological organisms.
Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity.
Although rain seldom occurs in deserts, there are occasional downpours that can result in flash floods.
A flash flood is a rapid flooding of geomorphic low-lying areas: washes, rivers, dry lakes and basins.
Rain falling on hot rocks can cause them to shatter and the resulting fragments and rubble strewn over the desert floor is further eroded by the wind.
This picks up particles of sand and dust and wafts them aloft in sand or dust storms.
A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions.
Wind-blown sand grains striking any solid object in their path can abrade the surface.
Rocks are smoothed down, and the wind sorts sand into uniform deposits.
The grains end up as level sheets of sand or are piled high in billowing sand dunes.
In physical geography, a dune is a hill of loose sand built by aeolian processes or the flow of water.
Other deserts are flat, stony plains where all the fine material has been blown away and the surface consists of a mosaic of smooth stones.
A mosaic is a piece of art or image made from the assembling of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials.
In geography, a plain is a flat, sweeping landmass that generally does not change much in elevation.
These areas are known as desert pavements and little further erosion takes place.
In earth science, erosion is the action of surface processes that removes soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, and then transports it to another location.
A desert pavement, also called reg, serir, gibber, or saï is a desert surface covered with closely packed, interlocking angular or rounded rock fragments of pebble and cobble size.
Other desert features include rock outcrops, exposed bedrock and clays once deposited by flowing water.
In geology, bedrock is the lithified rock that lies under a loose softer material called regolith within the surface of the crust of the Earth or other terrestrial planets.
Temporary lakes may form and salt pans may be left when waters evaporate.
Common salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride, a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of salts; salt in its natural form as a crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite.
A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land, apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake.
There may be underground sources of water in the form of springs and seepages from aquifers.
An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials.
Where these are found, oases can occur.
Plants and animals living in the desert need special adaptations to survive in the harsh environment.
Iron is a chemical element with symbol Fe and atomic number 26.
Plants tend to be tough and wiry with small or no leaves, water-resistant cuticles and often spines to deter herbivory.
A cuticle, or cuticula, is any of a variety of tough but flexible, non-mineral outer coverings of an organism, or parts of an organism, that provide protection.
Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusks and teeth of animals, that consists mainly of dentine, one of the physical structures of teeth and tusks.