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SCI 245 Deserts, Glaciers, and Climate Week 7




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Deserts 1
Deserts, Glaciers, and Climate
Axia College

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Deserts 2
Deserts, Glaciers, and Climate: Landscapes and Changes
It is no great mystery that the Earth is always changing. Talk of global warming
is inescapable, making it a moral imperative to become educated about the Earth’s
climate cycles and watch for changes and signs in Earth’s diverse landscapes. The
following is a brief sketch of desert and glacial landscapes, as well as a look at historical
and future climate changes.
Deserts VS Glacial Landscapes
Desert and glacial landscapes are very much on opposite sides of the landscape
spectrum, however in terms of adjective depiction they are related: “abstract, beautiful,
immense, remote ... and vulnerable” (Murck, Skinner, & Mackenzie, 2008, p. 376).
The desert landscapes are primarily fashioned by wind and sand, however they
are truly defined by the region’s annual rainfall. The landscapes in the desert are full of
sand, alluvial fans, playas, oases, arroyos as well as deposits of salt. Eolian, better
known as wind erosion, is the type of erosion seen in the desert. Deserts are constantly
altered and changing based on the direction of the wind. A highly noticeable example of
a changing geological feature in a desert landscape would be the dunes. Dunes are hills
or ridges of sand that are produced when the wind blows. These mounds of sand are
irregular, yet they come in five common types, barchan, transverse, star, parabolic, and
longitudinal. One way that deserts form is by desertification, the movement of desert

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Deserts 3
conditions into non-desert regions such as the case in Northern China (China Desert,
n.d). With areas like that of Northern China in a delicate balancing act to maintain its
ecosystem, even minor stresses by human (anthropogenic) or natural forces can become
too much to tolerate, thus a degradation of the land results. According to Murck et al.
(2008), the majority of desert lands are not covered by sand. Water erosion is an
important geologic process in deserts. Flash floods carve deep canyons called arroyos
and create depositional landforms such as alluvial fans” (p.411). This relationship with
water alone makes a desert landscape comparable to a glacial landscape because glacial
landscapes are predominantly formed by water.
A huge factor in the formation of glaciers is advance and retreat. Ultimately
formed by receding water from glaciers, this landscape can have any number of
different types of depositional land forms, such as unsorted tills, drumlins, moraines,
eskers, delta kames, kettles lakes, and plains (Glaciers, n.d.). When the glaciers move
across this landscape, they abrade it thus helping to form the landscape by producing
glacial striations and grooves. Routinely, the glacier will deposit sediments that will
make landforms such as moraines. This ridge or pile of left behind glacial debris allows
geologists to identify previous glacial retreats and disappearances. Another geological
feature that is caused by melting glaciers are kettles. These features are formed after the

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