The desert landscape is often assumed to be uniform(FORM) – a barren, fearless wasteland of endless sand or rubble and blistering, blinding sun. Anything more than a cursory(CURSOR) glance, however, reveals a much more highly nuanced topography, whose very diversity(DIVERSE) is made all the more visible by its near nakedness(NAKED) , veiled as it is by only the thinnest cloak of vegetation.
Deserts are among the most eroded landscapes on earth, uniquely(UNIQUE) vulnerable to the action and interaction of three powerful natural agents: the heating effects of the sun, the scouring power of sand-laden wind, and, perhaps more surprisingly, the occasional onslaught of rushing water. Together, these natural forces carry out the process of mechanical(MECH) weathering by which rocks are physically riven into ever smaller particles(PART) . Wind and water also act as agents of transportation, carrying the debris that result from weathering to new sites. The topography – the surfaces, shapes, and relief(RELIEVE) of the land – that these natural forces create depends not only on climate but also on the nature of the raw material upon which they work.