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Desertifying deserts

The current definition of desertification excludes hyper-arid zones given their lack of economic activity. However, the 101 million people living there, ongoing land degradation associated with the use of groundwater for intensive agriculture and climate-change-induced aridity call for a revision of this definition.

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Fig. 1: Hyper-arid areas of the world and groundwater bodies in the Middle East.
Fig. 2: Resource production, importation and groundwater use in Saudi Arabia from 1960–201711,16.


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This work was funded by the European Research Council grant agreement no. 647038 (BIODESERT). F.T.M. acknowledges support from Generalitat Valenciana (CIDEGENT/2018/041). The authors would like to thank D. J. Eldridge for his valuable comments and revisions of the text.

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Correspondence to Jaime Martínez-Valderrama.

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Martínez-Valderrama, J., Guirado, E. & Maestre, F.T. Desertifying deserts. Nat Sustain 3, 572–575 (2020).

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