Desertification, together with its economic and social impact and side effects, is a major problem in large parts of the drylands of the world. It is mainly for climatic reasons that these regions are susceptible to the processes of desertification. Predictions of climate development suggest changes of the two climatic parameters most significant for desertification: temperature and precipitation.
Introductory remarks on the definition, distribution, causes and process of desertification are followed by a discussion of the possible effects climate change will have on the frequency and intensity of climatic extreme events, on water budget respectively the availability of water, and also on vegetation. All of them are either inherent parts of desertification processes or closely related to them.
In spite of all the uncertainties involved in climate prediction it is quite likely that there will be winner and looser regions. Those with already extreme climatic conditions today – i.e. mainly the arid and semi-arid regions – will be among the latter, if it turns out that there will really be an acceleration of desertification.