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If you were to stand on Dome A, the 1. But most of that ice is over a million years old. Above you would be a broad blue disc of sky, usually unbroken by clouds. Dome A receives less than an inch of precipitation in a typical year.

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That is less precipitation than Death Valley. The fact that Dome A is so dry and high also makes the peak one of the most interesting places in the world to astronomers.

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Terahertz radiation is a band on the electromagnetic spectrum squeezed in between microwaves and the infrared. Water vapor in the atmosphere typically hides and distorts reception of light and radio waves reaching the Earth from distant parts of the universe, including the terahertz frequency range. So we need to find a place with minimal water vapor in the air. At the top of Dome A, is a smattering of antenna masts, small shipping containers, scientific equipment and a lot of footprints that take years for the snow and meager wind to cover up. No people. Dome A is an unmanned station.

It is visited only a few times each year by maintenance crews that travel miles from the coast in specially outfitted tractors. The trip takes about three weeks. Other observatories and weather stations on Dome A are operated by the Australian and Chinese governments. But a terahertz observatory, utilizing a five-meter telescope, would be different from other equipment on Dome A because it would allow scientists to look at the details of how important parts of the universe formed.

It is good for origin science: stars, planets and galaxies. The terahertz radiation reaching the Earth from distant galaxies took millions and even billions of years to reach us. But in order to properly design and build a terahertz observatory to be installed at Dome A, the research team needed to find out exactly how much water vapor lies between the surface of Dome A and the edge of space.

And it turned out that the existing science doing spectral analysis of water in the atmosphere was somewhat lacking. Where this got interesting in a multidisciplinary way, the same things we have to see to find out if its a good observatory site also help you to improve our knowledge of the spectral absorption of water vapor.

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And the greenhouse effect is caused mostly by water vapor. Getting 19 months of continuous spectral observations from Dome A was not an easy task. Diesel generators are notoriously cranky things to keep working long-term in the best of circumstances. To keep the station operating without humans to perform regular maintenance, the generators automatically traded off duty to one another and allowed periodic rest.

If one generator broke down, the others had enough capacity to make up for it. Solar panels can provide power for much of the year but aren't much help during the months when the polar region doesn't receive sunlight. The next step will be to build and install the terahertz observatory. The Chinese government paid most of the expenses for the research to date but additional funding has not been finalized.

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    History Archaeology. World History. The livelihoods of more than 1 billion people in some countries are threatened by desertification. Nearly 1billion of the poorest and most marginalized people, who live in the most vulnerable areas, may be the most severely affected by desertification. The Millennium Assessment found that in general, the human well-being of dryland peoples is lower than that of people in other ecological systems.

    For example, compared to other ecosystems, infant mortality rates are highest in drylands and gross national product GNP per capita lowest. This implies that drylands are home to populations with comparatively low levels of well-being. The total drylands population is 2. According to UN-Habitat, the Population density increases as aridity decreases.

    Global Warming and Livestock in Dry Areas: Expected Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation

    It ranges from 10 people per square kilometer in the deserts to 71 people in the dry sub-humid rangelands areas. When land degradation occurs in the drylands, it is referred to as desertification. It is generally reasoned that desertification is most likely to occur in regions about halfway between the high- and low-density areas. A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute reveals wide-scale restoration of forests in densely populated regions of Burkina Faso and Niger through low-cost farmer-managed restoration activities.

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    • Aridity is associated with water availability or scarcity. It matters for human well-being and the two key functions of land, namely, primary production and nutrient recycling. Water scarcity, the gap between its demand and supply, is highest in the drylands. Water scarcity increases with an increase in aridity. For basic well-being, each person requires a minimum of 2, cubic meters of water per year. Drylands people have access to 1, cubic meters only, and availability is projected to decrease.

      Today, water scarcity affects between billion people, most of them in the drylands. Under the climate change scenario, nearly half of the world's population in will be living in areas of high water stress. In some arid and semi-arid areas, it will displace up to between 24 million and million people. The status of species in the drylands remains unknown, as no assessment exists to date.


      The Millennium Assessment reports that 8 of the 25 global hotspots are in the drylands. These are areas where 0. Drylands play a vital role in local, but also global climate regulation. Land use change releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, while soil improvement is essentially the reverse process.

      It is sucking excess atmospheric carbon into the soil. Land rehabilitation practices such as mulching, composting, manuring and mixed cropping and reforesting, which increase carbon stocks in the soil, contributing directly to soil carbon sequestration.

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      These techniques are also part of the technology toolbox known as sustainable land management see below. Desertification refers to the land degradation in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. When land degradation happens in the world's drylands, it often creates desert-like conditions. About 1. Natural regeneration of vegetation cover and soils in arid areas takes times longer than in favourable areas with greater and more regular rainfall.