AP Human Geography : Desertification

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Human Geography

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Example Questions

Example Question #2 : Land Use & Cover

The process by which formerly fertile regions become arid and unusable for farming is called __________.

Possible Answers:

global warming

desertification

climate change

mechanization

husbandry

Correct answer:

desertification

Explanation:

The term “desertification” is used to describe the process by which previously fertile lands become arid and unusable for farming. This process has happened in many places throughout the world, famously in Ancient Greece and Ancient Mesopotamia. The primary cause of desertification is usually over farming.

Example Question #1 : Desertification

Which of the following is not an issue typically associated with desertification?

Possible Answers:

Over farming

Deforestation

Increased ocean acidity

Drought

Correct answer:

Increased ocean acidity

Explanation:

Desertification is the process by which deserts expand or arise. Many phenomena can lead to increased risk of desertification including: drought, over farming, and deforestation. 

Of the options, only one is not really directly related to desertification. Ocean acidification, although a very real and pressing problem, is not as directly related to desertification as the others. 

Example Question #4 : Land Use & Cover

__________ is an example of desertification.

Possible Answers:

Salinization

Pastoralism

Aquaculture

Irrigation

Domestication

Correct answer:

Salinization

Explanation:

“Desertification” is the name given to the process by which previously fertile agricultural lands are made infertile made by human practices. “Salinization,” which refers to the buildup of salt deposits through irrigation and evaporation, is an example of desertification.

Example Question #5 : Land Use & Cover

In which decade was the American Drought Relief Service created by the federal government?

Possible Answers:

The 1990s

The 1930s

The 1970s

The 1950s

The 1910s

Correct answer:

The 1930s

Explanation:

Although you might not have known when exactly the “American Drought Relief Service” was created you should be able to guess based on information that you do know. The Dust Bowl drought, which occurred in the first half of the 1930s was the most severe drought in American history and led to widespread famine and forced migration. The Drought Relief Service was created to try to alleviate this problem.

Example Question #6 : Land Use & Cover

Which of these regions has the highest percentage of degraded agricultural land?

Possible Answers:

East Asia

North America

South America

Australia

Western Europe

Correct answer:

Western Europe

Explanation:

“Degraded agricultural land” is land that was once fertile but has been made infertile by mismanagement and human intervention. It is most common in densely populated areas of the world where large-scale farming has been common for a long period of time. For this reason, densely populated Western Europe is the correct answer. While all of these answers may contain some amount of degraded agricultural land, Western Europe contains the highest percentage of such land.

Example Question #2 : Desertification

In the process of salinization the earth is rendered infertile by excess deposits of __________.

Possible Answers:

iron

sugar

salt

oil

magnesium

Correct answer:

salt

Explanation:

“Salinization” occurs frequently in arid climates. People use water to “irrigate” a previously untenable plot of land and make it usable for agricultural purposes. This allows them to work new plots of land for a period of time, but the water in this newly irrigated land evaporates much quicker than elsewhere and soon the earth is covered in residues of “salt” that render the land infertile.

Example Question #3 : Desertification

Salinization commonly occurs when __________ is used to __________.

Possible Answers:

aquaculture . . . restock a body of water with fish

hydroponics . . . allow food to be grown in arid climates

irrigation . . . farm in tropical climates

hydroponics . . . allow food to be grown in areas without topsoil

irrigation . . . farm in arid climates

Correct answer:

irrigation . . . farm in arid climates

Explanation:

“Salinization” occurs when soil in an arid climate has been made available for agricultural production using irrigation. The water evaporates quickly off the newly irrigated land, leaving residues of salt lying in the earth. Over time this causes the land to become infertile. This process is known as “salinization.”

Example Question #9 : Land Use & Cover

Desertification is a growing problem in the world today. As humans affect climate change, they affect the deserts of the world. Desertification causes many problems as arable land is being taken over by deserts.

Which of the following regions has the highest percentage of land affected by desertification?

Possible Answers:

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Asia

Correct answer:

North America

Explanation:

Even though North America is a developed region, it is not safe from desertification. Nearly 74% of North America's drylands are affected by desertification. The increasing rate and intensity of wildfires in the western part of North America is due to how climate change is affecting this region.

Africa does struggle with the affects of desertification and is just behind North America with 73% of drylands affected. Though there is less land affected, the economic toll for some countries in Africa is much greater.

Certain parts of Asia are also very affected by desertification. However, it is on a much smaller scale in the vast expanse of this region.

Europe and South America are the least affected by desertification.

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