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Desertion

Desertion. Under American military law, desertion is the act of leaving one's service or duty without the intention of returning or being absent without authorization for more than a month.

In peacetime, desertion has been a continuing phenomenon in American military history, at least through the early twentieth century, although its extent has varied widely depending upon the circumstances facing the service people. Unlike European nations, the U.S. government had little control over its citizens, and deserters could escape relatively easily, particularly into the rural and frontier regions of the country. Low pay and poor conditions have contributed significantly to peacetime desertions.

The armed forces require enlisted men and women to serve tours of duty of specific duration. Unlike commissioned officers, enlisted personnel are not legally permitted to resign unilaterally. Thus, desertion constitutes an enlisted person's repudiation of his or her legal obligation.

A correlation has existed in peacetime between desertion rates and the business cycle. When the country experienced economic depression and high unemployment, fewer people abandoned the service. Yet in an expanding economy, with workers in demand and wage scales increasing, many more service men and women have forsaken the high job security but lesser monetary rewards of the military.

The highest peacetime desertion rates in American history were reached during periods of economic growth in the 1820s, early 1850s, early 1870s, the 1880s, early 1900s, and the 1920s, when the annual flow of deserters averaged between 7 and 15 percent of the U.S. Army. A peak of 32.6 percent was recorded in 1871, when 8,800 of the 27,010 enlisted men deserted in protest against a pay cut. (By contrast, the desertion rate in the British army was only about 2 percent.) Lured by higher civilian wages and prodded by miserable living conditions—low pay, poor food, inadequate amenities, and boredom—on many frontier western outposts, a total of 88,475 soldiers (one‐third of the men recruited by the army) deserted between 1867 and 1891.

The peacetime navy had its own desertion problems. In the nineteenth century, many of the enlisted men had grim personal backgrounds or criminal records or were foreigners with little loyalty to the United States. A rigid class system and iron discipline contributed to high rates of alcoholism and desertion. In 1880, there were 1,000 desertions from an enlisted force of 8,500 seamen.

During wartime, desertion rates in all the military services have varied widely but have generally been lower than in peacetime—perhaps reflecting the increased numbers of service people, national spirit, and more severe penalties prescribed for combat desertion. The end of hostilities, however, generally was accompanied by a dramatic flight from the military. After almost every war, the desertion rate doubled temporarily as many regular enlisted personnel joined other Americans in returning to peacetime pursuits. The variation in wartime desertion rates seems to result from differences in public sentiment and prospects for military success. Although many factors are involved, generally the more swift and victorious the campaign and the more popular the conflict, the lower the desertion rate. Defeat and disagreement or disillusionment about a war have been accompanied by a higher incidence of desertion.

In the Revolutionary War, desertion depleted both the state militias and the Continental army after such reverses as the British seizures of New York City and Philadelphia; at spring planting or fall harvesting times, when farmer‐soldiers returned to their fields; and as veterans deserted in order to reenlist, seeking the increased bounties of cash or land that the states offered new enlistees. Widespread desertion, even in the midst of battle, plagued the military during the setbacks of the War of 1812. In the Mexican War, 6,825 men, or nearly 7 percent of the army, deserted; and one unit of the Mexican Army, the San Patricio Artillery Battalion, was composed of American deserters.

The Civil War produced the highest American wartime desertion rates because of its bloody battles, new enlistment bounties, and the relative ease with which deserters could escape capture, particularly in the mountain regions. The Union armies recorded 278,644 cases of desertion, representing 11 percent of the troops. As the Confederate military situation deteriorated, desertion reached epidemic proportions. The Appalachian Mountains, Florida swamps, and Texas chaparral became the domain of armed bands of Southern deserters. In the final year of the war, whole companies and regiments, sometimes with most of their officers, left together to return to their homes. In all, Confederate deserters numbered 104,428, or 10 percent of the South's armies.

The brief and successful Spanish‐American War resulted in 5,285 desertions, or less than 2 percent of the armed forces in 1898. However, the rate climbed to 4 percent during the long and arduous Philippine War between 1900 and 1902. In World War I, because conscription regulations classified any draftee failing to report for induction at the prescribed time as a deserter, the records of 1917–18 showed 363,022 deserters, who would have been more appropriately designated draft evaders. Traditionally defined deserters amounted to 21,282, or less than 1 percent of the army in World War I.

In World War II, desertion rates reached 6.3 percent of the armed forces in 1944, and during the American reverses at the Battle of the Bulge, the army executed one American soldier, Private Ernie Slovik, for desertion in the face of the enemy as an example to other troops. Desertion rates dropped to 4.5 percent in 1945. During the Korean War, the use of short‐term service and the rotation system helped keep desertion rates down to 1.4 percent of the armed forces in fiscal year (FY) 1951 and to 2.2 percent or 31,041 in FY 1953.

The divisive Vietnam War generated the highest percentage of wartime desertion since the Civil War. From 13,177 cases—or 1.6 percent of the armed forces—in FY 1965, the annual desertion statistics mounted to 2.9 percent in FY 1968, 4.2 percent in FY 1969, 5.2 percent in FY 1970, and 7.4 percent (79,027 incidents of desertion) in FY 1971. Like the draft resisters from this same war, many deserters sought sanctuary in Canada, Mexico, or Sweden. In 1974, the Defense Department reported that between 1 July 1966 and 31 December 1973, there had been 503,926 incidents of desertion in all services during the Vietnam War.

The end of the draft and the Vietnam War, together with the enhancement of pay and living conditions in the All‐Volunteer Force, dramatically reduced desertions, although there was somewhat of another upsurge during the Persian Gulf War (1991).
[See also Military Justice; Morale, Troop.]

Bibliography

Ella Lonn , Desertion During the Civil War, 1928, 1966;
William B. Huie , The Execution of Private Slovik, 1954, 1991;
Russell F. Weigley , History of the United States Army, 1967;
Jack D. Foner , The United States Soldier between the Two Wars: Army Life and Reforms, 1865–1898, 1968;
Thomas L. Hayes , American Deserters in Sweden, 1971;
Robert L. Alotta , Stop the Evil: A Civil War History of Desertion and Murder, 1978;
Edward M. Coffman , The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime, 1784–1898, 1986.

John Whiteclay Chambers II

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John Whiteclay Chambers II. "Desertion." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. 2000. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Desert

Desert

A desert is an arid land area that generally receives less than 10 inches (250 millimeters) of rainfall per year. What little water it does receive is quickly lost through evaporation. Average annual precipitation in the world's deserts ranges from about 0.4 to 1 inch (10 to 25 millimeters) in the driest areas to 10 inches (250 millimeters) in semiarid regions.

Other features that mark desert systems include high winds, low humidity, and temperatures that can fluctuate dramatically. It is not uncommon for the temperature to soar above 90°F (32°C) and then drop below 32°F (0°C) in a single day in the desert.

Most of the world's desert ecosystems (communities of plants and animals) are located in two belts near the tropics at 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator. These areas receive little rainfall because of the downward flow of dry air currents that originate at the equator. As this equatorial air moves north and south, it cools and loses whatever moisture it contains. Once this cool, dry air moves back toward Earth's surface, it is rewarmed, making it even drier. Over the desert areas, the dry air currents draw moisture away from the land on their journey back toward the equator.

Deserts around the world

The vast Sahara Desert in northern Africa encompasses an area 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) wide and 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) deep. Sand composes just 20 percent of the Sahara, while plains of rock, pebble, and salt flats, punctuated by mountains, make up the rest. The Sahara can experience temperatures that rise and fall 100°F (38°C) in a single day. Decades can go by without rain. By contrast, the Gobi Desert, covering 500,000 square miles (1,295,000 square kilometers) in northcentral Asia, sits at a higher altitude than the Sahara. As a result, temperatures in the Gobi remain below freezing most of the year.

Words to Know

Arid land: Land that receives less than 10 inches (250 millimeters) of rainfall annually and has a high rate of evaporation.

Desert pavement: Surface of flat desert lands covered with closely spaced, smooth rock fragments that resemble cobblestones.

Desert varnish: Dark film of iron oxide and manganese oxide on the surface of exposed desert rocks.

Rain-shadow deserts: Areas that lie in the shadow of mountain ranges and receive little precipitation.

The Kalahari and Namib Deserts lie in the southern portion of Africa. The desert region that fills the interior of Australia is known as

the Outback. Antarctica, the land mass at the southern pole of the globe, is a polar desert. One of the driest places on Earth, it receives only a dusting of snow each year. Warmest summer temperatures in Antarctica reach only 25°F (4°C).

The deserts of the United States are located at higher latitudes and in higher altitudes than is typical of many other arid regions of the world. Death Valley in California is both extremely arid and extremely hot in the summer. South of it are the relatively cooler and wetter Mojave and Sonoran Deserts.

Rain-shadow deserts

Rain-shadow deserts are those that lie in the shadow of mountain ranges. As air ascends on one side of a range, it releases any moisture it carries. Once on the other side, the air contains little moisture, forming deserts in the slope of the range. Among rain-shadow deserts are Death

Valley (in the shadow of the Sierra Nevadas) and Argentina's Patagonian and Monte Deserts (in the shadow of Chile's Andes).

Desert topography

Dunes, wind-blown piles of sand, are the most common image of a desert landscape. Wind constantly sculpts sand piles into a wide variety of shapes. Dunes move as wind bounces sand up the dune's gently sloping windward side (facing the wind) to the peak of the slope. At the peak the wind's speed drops and sends sand cascading down the steeper lee side (downwind). As this process continues, the dune migrates in the direction the wind blows. Given enough sand and time, dunes override other dunes to thicknesses of thousands of feet, as in the Sahara Desert.

Desertification

Desertification refers to the gradual transformation of productive land into that with desertlike conditions. Desertification may occur in rain forests and tropical mountainous areas. Even a desert itself can become desertified, losing its sparse collection of plants and animals and becoming a barren wasteland.

Desertification occurs in response to continued land abuse, and may be brought about by natural or man-made actions. Among the natural forces are constant wind and water (which erode topsoil) and long-term changes in rainfall patterns (such as a drought). The list of human actions includes overgrazing of farm animals, strip mining, the depletion of groundwater supplies, the removal of forests, and the physical compacting of the soil (such as by cattle and off-road vehicles).

Almost 33 percent of Earth's land surface is desert, a proportion that is increasing by as much as 40 square miles (64 square kilometers) each day. The arid lands of North America are among those most affected by desertification: almost 90 percent are moderately to severely desertified.

Fortunately, scientists believe that severe desertification is rare. Many feel that most desertified areas can be restored to productivity through careful land management.

Sand carried by the wind can act as an abrasive on the land over which it flows. Rocks on the floor of a desert can become polished in this way. Closely spaced, smooth rock fragments that resemble cobblestones on the surface of flat lands are referred to as desert pavement. The dark film of iron oxide and manganese oxide on the surface of the exposed rocks is called desert varnish.

Life in the desert

The plants and animals that are able to survive the extremes of desert conditions have all evolved ways of compensating for the lack of water. Plants that are able to thrive in the desert include lichens (algae and fungi growing together). Lichens have no roots and can absorb water and nutrients from rain, dew, and the dust on which they grow. Succulent plants, such as cacti, quickly absorb rainwater when it comes and store it in their stems and leaves, if they have them. Other plants store nutrients in their roots and stems. Many desert shrubs have evolved into upside-down cone shapes. They collect large amounts of rain on their surfaces, then funnel it down to their bases.

Deserts are not lifeless, but are inhabited by insects, arachnids (spiders and scorpions), reptiles, birds, and mammals. Unlike plants, these animals can seek shelter from the scorching sun, cold, and winds by crawling into underground burrows. Many have adapted to the harsh desert environment by developing specific body processes. Some small mammals, such as rodents, excrete only concentrated urine and dry feces, and perspire little as a way of conserving body fluids. The camel's body temperature can soar to 105°F (41°C) before this mammal sweats. It can lose up to one-third of its body weight and replace it at a single drinking.

[See also Biome ]

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Desertion

DESERTION

DESERTION from military service has been a continual phenomenon in American history although its extent has varied widely depending upon the circumstances that have confronted soldiers. The armed forces require enlisted men and women to serve tours of duty of specific duration and, unlike commissioned officers, enlisted personnel may not legally resign before the end of that period. Thus desertion—being absent without authorization for over a month—constitutes the enlisted person's repudiation of his or her legal obligation.

In peacetime there has been a direct correlation between desertion rates and the business cycle. When the country has experienced a depression and a labor surplus, fewer soldiers have abandoned the army. By contrast, in an expanding economy, with workers in demand and wage scales increasing, many more servicemen and women have forsaken the high job security but low monetary rewards of the army.

The highest peacetime desertion rates in American history occurred during the periods of economic growth in the 1820s, early 1850s, early 1870s, 1880s, early 1900s, and 1920s, when the flow of deserters averaged between 7 and 15 percent each year. A peak of 32.6 percent was reached in 1871, when 8,800 of the 27,010 enlisted men deserted in protest against a pay cut. Lured by higher civilian wages and prodded by the miserable living conditions of most frontier outposts, a total of 88,475, or one-third of the men recruited by the army, deserted between 1867 and 1891.

During wartime, desertion rates have varied widely but have generally been lower than in peacetime service, a tendency that perhaps reflects the increased numbers of troops, national spirit, and more severe penalties prescribed for combat desertion. A dramatic flight from military duty has generally accompanied the termination of hostilities. After almost every war the desertion rate has doubled temporarily as many servicemen and women have joined other Americans in returning to peacetime pursuits. The variation in wartime desertion rates seems to result from differences in public sentiment and military prospects. Although many factors are involved, generally the more swift and victorious the campaign and the more popular the conflict, the lower the desertion rate. Defeat and disagreement or disillusionment about a war have been accompanied by a higher incidence of desertion.

In the American Revolution, desertion depleted both the state militias and the Continental army after such reverses as the British seizure of New York City; at spring planting or fall harvesting time, when farmer-soldiers returned to their fields; and as veterans deserted in order to reenlist, seeking the increased bounties of cash or land that the states offered for new enlistees. Widespread desertion, even in the midst of battle, plagued the military during the War of 1812.Inthe Mexican-American War, 6,825 men, or nearly 7 percent of the army, deserted. Moreover, American deserters composed one unit of the Mexican army, the San Patricio Artillery Battalion.

The Civil War produced the highest American wartime desertion rates because of its bloody battles, new enlistment bounties, and relative ease with which deserters could escape capture in the interior regions. The Union armies recorded 278,644 cases of desertion, representing 11 percent of the troops. As the Confederate military situation deteriorated, desertion reached epidemic proportions. Whole companies and regiments, sometimes with most of their officers, fled together. In all, Confederate deserters numbered 104,428, or 10 percent of the armies of the South.

The Spanish-American War resulted in 5,285 desertions, or less than 2 percent of the armed forces in 1898. The rate climbed to 4 percent during the Philippine Insurrection between 1900 and 1902. In World War I, because Selective Service regulations classified anyone failing to report for induction at the prescribed time as a deserter, the records of 1917–1918 showed 363,022 deserters who would have been more appropriately designated draft evaders. Traditionally defined deserters amounted to 21,282, or less than 1 percent of the army. In World War II desertion rates reached 6.3 percent of the armed forces in 1944 but dropped to 4.5 percent by 1945. The use of short-term service and the rotation system during the Korean War kept desertion rates down to 1.4 percent of the armed forces in fiscal year 1951 and to 2.2 percent, or 31,041 soldiers, in fiscal year 1953.

The unpopular war in Vietnam generated the highest percentage of wartime desertion since the Civil War. From 13,177 cases, or 1.6 percent of the armed forces, in fiscal year 1965, the annual desertion statistics mounted to 2.9 percent in fiscal year 1968, 4.2 percent in fiscal year 1969, 5.2 percent in fiscal year 1970, and 7.4 percent in fiscal year 1971. Like the draft resisters from this same war, many deserters sought sanctuary in Canada, Mexico, or Sweden. In 1974 the Defense Department reported that there had been 503,926 incidents of desertion between 1 July 1966 and 31 December 1973.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Higginbotham, Don. War and Society in Revolutionary America: The Wider Dimensions of Conflict. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988.

Jessup, John E., et al., eds. Encyclopedia of the American Military: Studies of the History, Traditions, Policies, Institutions, and Roles of the Armed Forces in War and Peace. New York: Scribners; Toronto: Macmillan, 1994.

Weitz, Mark A. A Higher Duty: Desertion among Georgia Troops During the Civil War. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Whiteclay, John, et al., eds. The Oxford Companion to American Military History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

John WhiteclayChambers/a. e.

See alsoAmnesty ; Army, Confederate ; Army, Union ; Bounty Jumper ; Confederate States of America ; Revolution, American: Military History .

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Desert

Desert

Deserts are environments shaped by aridity, or dryness. Aridity reflects the balance between precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (PET), or the air's ability to absorb water (determined by temperature and water content). In arid zones, precipitation may be 5 to 20 percent of PET; semi-arid regions receive more precipitation, and hyper-arid regions less, in relation to PET.

Features of a Desert

Roughly one-third of Earth's land surface is arid or semi-arid. The major desert regions are: Australia, western North America, western South America (Atacama), southern Africa (Namib), and Asia-northern Africa. There are so-called polar deserts; however, most arid lands are in the warm subtropics.

There are two primary causes of aridity. One is the subtropical highpressure belts, where high altitude air masses move away from the tropics. Tropical heat causes air to rise and cool, and therefore drop moisture as it moves away from the equator. The air then becomes more cool and dense. This air then sinks, warms as it nears the surface, and regains the ability to absorb water, thus creating zones of aridity. A second cause is the rainshadow effect caused by mountain ranges. Continental interiors are dry because most air masses have moved long distances or over mountains and in doing so have lost water.

Desert conditions may be quite harsh. Intense solar radiation and lack of shade cause surface temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit). Limited precipitation and rapid evaporation greatly limit plant growth, and water is rarely available for animal consumption. Precipitation is predictable in some systems (such as winter rains in California's Mojave) but nonseasonal in others. Many sites experience long rainfree periods; in portions of the Atacama, rainfall has never been recorded.

Variability is another characteristic of deserts. Precipitation is episodic; rainstorms may be quite intense, with much of the annual total falling in just minutes. Similarly, resources may be spatially patchy. Arroyos or erosion channels and low spots may collect runoff from surrounding areas; rockiness and soil surface crusts contribute to runoff. Seeds and litter accumulate and support plant growth in low, relatively moist locations. Permanent water sources (desert springs or oases) are rare but important.

Evaporation draws water from the surface, leaving dissolved minerals as a salty crust. Sparse plant growth adds little organic material to the soil; thus the soil has limited capacity to retain water and minerals. Sparse vegetation also increases the erosional influences of high wind, runoff, and extreme temperatures. Sand dunes are accumulations of eroded materials; their instability makes them harsh environments for most organisms.

Desert Life

Desert organisms adapt to arid environments either by tolerating extreme conditions or by escaping them. Toleration is survival under stress. Many adaptations are related to water acquisition. Plants may have shallow, extensive root systems to absorb rainfall from the largest area possible. Animals obtain moisture from live food. Tenebrionid beetles of the Namib extract water from coastal fogs: The beetles do "headstands" on dune ridges, and moisture condensing on the beetle's textured carapace trickles down to the mouth. Kangaroo rats obtain virtually all of their water by oxidation of fats in dry seeds (metabolic water). Other adaptations involve water retention: storage of water in succulent tissues; specialized photosynthetic processes minimizing water loss; leaflessness, small leaves, or leaf loss during drought, also reducing plant water use; and animal use of burrows or shade. Finally, some organisms simply tolerate tissue dehydration.

Escape or avoidance results in activity only during favorable periods. Annual plants, completing their life cycle in a single year, are abundant in many deserts. They may spend years as dormant seeds; only after sufficient rainfall do they germinate and grow, reproducing quickly before the soil redries. Some invertebrates and amphibians remain dormant up to several years, the invertebrates as eggs or in the "suspended animation" of cryptobiosis , the amphibians as aestivating, or dormant adults, beneath the surface. When temporary ponds form after rain, these organisms hatch or awaken; feeding, reproduction, and growth of juveniles are all a race against time so that at least some mature before the ponds dry. Some organisms are nomadic or migratory, finding temporary patches created by local rainfall: These include large mammals such as antelope, birds, and even insects (for example, desert locusts or grasshoppers).

Arid and semiarid regions have been important for livestock grazing throughout history. As energy sources have made irrigation feasible, some regions have been converted to cultivation. Urban populations are increasing rapidly where groundwater or river water is available and affordable; the southwestern United States, for example, contains several rapidly growing metropolitan areas in desert, such as Phoenix, Arizona. Depletion of underlying groundwater is a major environmental consequence in such areas.

see also Biome; Grassland; Water Cycle

Laura F. Huenneke

Bibliography

Cooke, R. U., A. Warren, and A. S. Goudie. Desert Geomorphology. London: UCL Press, 1993.

Louw, G. N. and M. K. Seeley. Ecology of Desert Organisms. New York: Longman, 1982.

Mares, M. A., ed. Encyclopedia of Deserts. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

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Desertion

DESERTION

The act by which a person abandons and forsakes, without justification, a condition of public, social, or family life, renouncing its responsibilities and evading its duties. A willfulabandonmentof an employment or duty in violation of a legal or moral obligation.

Criminal desertion is a husband's or wife's abandonment or willful failure withoutjust causeto provide for the care, protection, or support of a spouse who is in ill health or necessitous circumstances.

Desertion, which is called abandonment in some statutes, is a divorce ground in a majority of states. Most statutes mandate that the abandonment continue for a certain period of time before a divorce action may be commenced. The length of this period varies between one and five years; it is most commonly one year. The period of separation must be continuous and uninterrupted. In addition, proof that the departed spouse left without the consent of the other spouse is required in most states.

Ordinarily, proof of desertion is a clear-cut factual matter. Courts generally require evidence that the departure was voluntary and that the deserted husband or wife in no way provoked or agreed to the abandonment. Constructive desertion occurs when one party makes life so intolerable for his or her spouse that the spouse has no real choice but to leave the marital home. For an individual to have legal justification for departing, it is often required that the spouse act so wrongfully as to constitute grounds for divorce. For example, a wife might leave her husband if she finds that he is guilty of adultery.

In desertion cases, it is not necessary to prove the emotional state of the abandoning spouse, but only the intent to break off matrimonial ties with no animus revertendi, the intention to return.

Mere separation does not constitute desertion if a husband and wife agree that they cannot cohabit harmoniously. Sexual relations between the parties must be totally severed during the period of separation. If two people live apart from one another but meet on a regular basis for sex, this does not constitute desertion. State law dictates whether or not an infrequent meeting for sexual relations amounts to an interruption of the period required for desertion. Some statutes provide that an occasional act of sexual intercourse terminates the period only if the husband and wife are attempting reconciliation.

Unintentional abandonment is not desertion. For example, if a man is missing in action while serving in the armed services, his wife may not obtain a divorce on desertion grounds since her spouse did not intend to leave his family and flee the marital relationship. The common law allows an individual to presume that a spouse is dead if the spouse is unexplainably absent for a seven-year period. If the spouse returns at any time, the marriage remains intact under common law.

Laws that embody the enoch arden doctrine grant a divorce if evidence establishes that an individual's spouse has vanished and cannot be found through diligent efforts. A particular period of time must elapse. Sometimes, if conditions evidencing death can be exhibited, a divorce may be granted prior to the expiration of the time specified by law.

In some jurisdictions, the law is stringent regarding divorce grounds. In such instances, an Enoch Arden decree might be labeled a dissolution of the marriage rather than a divorce.

Upon the granting of an Enoch Arden decree, the marriage is terminated regardless of whether or not the absent spouse returns. Generally, the court provides that the plaintiff must show precisely what has been done to locate the missing person. Efforts to find the absent spouse might include inquiries made to friends or relatives to determine if they have had contact with the missing spouse, or checking public records for such documents as a marriage license, death certificate, tax returns, or application for social security in locations where the individual is known to have resided.

Desertion is frequently coupled with non-support, which is a failure to provide monetary resources for those to whom such an obligation is due. Nonsupport is a crime in a majority of states but prosecutions are uncommon.

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desert

de·sert1 / dəˈzərt/ • v. [tr.] abandon (a person, cause, or organization) in a way considered disloyal or treacherous: he deserted his wife and daughter and went back to England. ∎  [usu. as adj.] (deserted) (of a number of people) leave (a place), causing it to appear empty: the lobby of the hotel was virtually deserted. ∎  (of a quality or ability) fail (someone), esp. at a crucial moment when most needed: her luck deserted her. ∎  [intr.] Mil. (of a soldier) illegally run away from military service. DERIVATIVES: de·ser·tion / -ˈzərshən/ n. de·sert3 / diˈzərt/ • n. (usu. deserts) a person's worthiness or entitlement to reward or punishment: the penal system fails to punish offenders in accordance with their deserts. PHRASES: get (or receive) one's just deserts receive the appropriate reward or (more usually) punishment for one's actions: those who caused great torment to others rarely got their just deserts.

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desertion

desertion, in law, the forsaking of a station involving public or social duties without justification and with the intention of not returning. In military law, it is the abandonment of (or failure to arrive at) a place of duty without leave; in time of war, especially in the face of the enemy, desertion is punishable by death. In maritime law, a seaman who abandons a ship without leave is rendered liable to damages and forfeits the wages he has already earned. In family law, desertion is the willful abandonment by one spouse in a marriage, without the consent of the other. The refusal to renew cohabitation without justification is also considered desertion, and in some states of the United States, mere abstinence from sexual intercourse is considered such. The refusal by a husband to support his wife has been regarded as desertion if he has the means to support her. In most states, desertion continued for a certain period is grounds for divorce. In the modern, no-fault divorce, desertion is not recognized, although the marital partners may have been living apart prior to the divorce.

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"desertion." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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desert

desert Arid region of the Earth characterized by intermittent rainfall of less than 25cm (10in) per year, and little or no vegetation. Regions with 25 to 50cm (10–20in) of rainfall are semi-deserts. Cold deserts, areas almost permanently covered with snow or ice, extend over one-sixth of the Earth's surface, and hot deserts over one-fifth. Most desert regions lie in the horse latitudes between 20° and 30° n and s of the Equator. These include the Kalahari and Sahara (the world's largest desert). Deserts, such as the Atacama and Namib, occur in w coastal regions where offshore currents make the land exceptionally dry. There are also deserts in the middle of the largest continents where no onshore winds can reach to bring rain, such as the Gobi and Mojave deserts. See also tundra

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"desert." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"desert." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-desert.html

"desert." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-desert.html

desert

desert a dry, barren area of land, especially one covered with sand, that is characteristically desolate, waterless, and without vegetation.
Desert Fathers hermits living an ascetic life in 4th-century Egypt, whose lives became the pattern for Christian community monasticism.
Desert Island Discs a popular radio progamme (1942– ), originally created by Roy Plomley (1914–85), in which the chosen celebrity ‘castaway’ chooses eight records with which to be marooned on a desert island, together with one luxury and one book besides the Bible and Shakespeare.
Desert Storm the name of the Allied Forces' land campaign in the 1991 Gulf War; Desert Storm syndrome is another term for Gulf War Syndrome.

See also ship of the desert.

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ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "desert." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "desert." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O214-desert.html

ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "desert." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O214-desert.html

desert

desert A major terrestrial biome characterized by low rainfall. Hot deserts, such as the Sahara and Kalahari deserts of Africa, have a rainfall of less than 25 cm a year and extremely high daytime temperatures (up to 36°C). Vegetation is sparse, and desert plants are adapted to conserve water and take advantage of the rain when it falls. The perennials include xerophytic trees and shrubs (see xerophyte) and succulents, such as cacti; many succulents show crassulacean acid metabolism. Annual plants are ephemerals, lying dormant as seeds for most of the year and completing their life cycle in the brief rainy periods. Desert animals are typically nocturnal or active at dawn and dusk, thus avoiding the extreme daytime temperatures.

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"desert." A Dictionary of Biology. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"desert." A Dictionary of Biology. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O6-desert.html

"desert." A Dictionary of Biology. 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O6-desert.html

desert

desert. C18 landscape designed to look wild, forsaken, uninhabited, and uncultivated, with ‘ruined’ buildings, giving the impression of having been abandoned, and conducive to melancholy. A good example is the Désert de Retz, Chambourcy, Yvelines, France (1770s), with its folly in the form of a huge overscaled ruined column with an interior of three floors of apartments arranged around a central spiral stair. The rooms on the fourth floor were illuminated by means of top-lighting behind the ‘column’-shaft's broken top and through glazed ‘cracks’ in the ‘flutes’.

Bibliography

W. Adams (1979);
Muthesius & and Turner (1991);
Racine (ed.) (2001)

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JAMES STEVENS CURL. "desert." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. 2000. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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JAMES STEVENS CURL. "desert." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. 2000. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O1-desert.html

desert

desert A term which has no precise definition. Deserts may be thought of in terms of biomes in which evaporation exceeds the average precipitation. The rate of evaporation varies with temperature, but desert conditions are likely to develop wherever precipitation is less than 250 mm/yr. Typically, precipitation in deserts is very erratic. Plants and animals are either absent or sparsely distributed, and are adapted to long droughts or to a lack of access to free water.

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AILSA ALLABY and MICHAEL ALLABY. "desert." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. 1999. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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AILSA ALLABY and MICHAEL ALLABY. "desert." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. 1999. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O13-desert.html

desert

desert An area within which the rate of evaporation exceeds the rate of precipitation for most of the time. The rate of evaporation depends on temperature but a desert is likely to form within any temperature range if the average precipitation is less than 250 mm/yr, and is typically very erratic. Plants and animals are either absent or sparsely distributed, and they are adapted to long droughts or to a lack of access to free water.

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MICHAEL ALLABY. "desert." A Dictionary of Ecology. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

MICHAEL ALLABY. "desert." A Dictionary of Ecology. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O14-desert.html

MICHAEL ALLABY. "desert." A Dictionary of Ecology. 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O14-desert.html

desert

desert An area within which the rate of evaporation exceeds the rate of precipitation for most of the time. The rate of evaporation depends on temperature, but a desert is likely to form within any temperature range if the average precipitation is less than 250 mm/yr, and typically very erratic. Plants and animals are either absent or sparsely distributed, and are adapted to long droughts or to a lack of access to free water.

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MICHAEL ALLABY. "desert." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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MICHAEL ALLABY. "desert." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. 1998. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O7-desert.html

desert

desert 2 waste tract of country. XIII. — (O)F. désert — ecclL. dēsertum, sb. use of n. of dēsertus abandoned, left waste, pp. of dēserere sever connection with, leave, forsake. The L. pp. is the source of (O)F. désert adj., whence desert adj. (XIII), which is now apprehended as an attrib. use of the sb.

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T. F. HOAD. "desert." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

T. F. HOAD. "desert." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O27-desert1.html

T. F. HOAD. "desert." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O27-desert1.html

desert

desert 1 worthiness, meritoriousness XIII; action or quality deserving appropriate recompense XIV. — OF. desert, deserte, sb. derivs. of deservir DESERVE (obs. pp. desert, repr. Rom. *dēservitus, for L. dēservītus).

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T. F. HOAD. "desert." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Desert

Desert

of lapwing: flock of lapwingBk. of St. Albans, 1486.

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"Desert." Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. 1985. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Desert." Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. 1985. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2505300521.html

desert

desert •Evert • sievert •divot, pivot •covert, lovat •culvert • adequate • stalwart • desert •advert, alert, animadvert, assert, avert, Bert, blurt, Burt, cert, chert, concert, controvert, convert, curt, desert, dessert, dirt, divert, exert, flirt, girt, hurt, inert, insert, introvert, Kurt, malapert, overt, pert, pervert, quirt, shirt, skirt, spirt, spurt, squirt, Sturt, subvert, vert, wort, yurt •Engelbert • Colbert • sweatshirt •nightshirt • pay dirt • Frankfurt •miniskirt • underskirt • expert •Blackshirt • redshirt • T-shirt •Brownshirt • undershirt • extrovert •ragwort • milkwort • pillwort •nipplewort • lungwort • bladderwort •liverwort

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"desert." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"desert." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-desert.html

"desert." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O233-desert.html

desertion

desertionashen, fashion, passion, ration •abstraction, action, attraction, benefaction, compaction, contraction, counteraction, diffraction, enaction, exaction, extraction, faction, fraction, interaction, liquefaction, malefaction, petrifaction, proaction, protraction, putrefaction, redaction, retroaction, satisfaction, stupefaction, subtraction, traction, transaction, tumefaction, vitrifaction •expansion, mansion, scansion, stanchion •sanction •caption, contraption •harshen, Martian •cession, discretion, freshen, session •abjection, affection, circumspection, collection, complexion, confection, connection, convection, correction, defection, deflection, dejection, detection, direction, ejection, election, erection, genuflection, imperfection, infection, inflection, injection, inspection, insurrection, interconnection, interjection, intersection, introspection, lection, misdirection, objection, perfection, predilection, projection, protection, refection, reflection, rejection, resurrection, retrospection, section, selection, subjection, transection, vivisection •exemption, pre-emption, redemption •abstention, apprehension, ascension, attention, circumvention, comprehension, condescension, contention, contravention, convention, declension, detention, dimension, dissension, extension, gentian, hypertension, hypotension, intention, intervention, invention, mention, misapprehension, obtention, pension, prehension, prevention, recension, retention, subvention, supervention, suspension, tension •conception, contraception, deception, exception, inception, interception, misconception, perception, reception •Übermenschen • subsection •ablation, aeration, agnation, Alsatian, Amerasian, Asian, aviation, cetacean, citation, conation, creation, Croatian, crustacean, curation, Dalmatian, delation, dilation, donation, duration, elation, fixation, Galatian, gyration, Haitian, halation, Horatian, ideation, illation, lavation, legation, libation, location, lunation, mutation, natation, nation, negation, notation, nutation, oblation, oration, ovation, potation, relation, rogation, rotation, Sarmatian, sedation, Serbo-Croatian, station, taxation, Thracian, vacation, vexation, vocation, zonation •accretion, Capetian, completion, concretion, deletion, depletion, Diocletian, excretion, Grecian, Helvetian, repletion, Rhodesian, secretion, suppletion, Tahitian, venetian •academician, addition, aesthetician (US esthetician), ambition, audition, beautician, clinician, coition, cosmetician, diagnostician, dialectician, dietitian, Domitian, edition, electrician, emission, fission, fruition, Hermitian, ignition, linguistician, logician, magician, mathematician, Mauritian, mechanician, metaphysician, mission, monition, mortician, munition, musician, obstetrician, omission, optician, paediatrician (US pediatrician), patrician, petition, Phoenician, physician, politician, position, rhetorician, sedition, statistician, suspicion, tactician, technician, theoretician, Titian, tuition, volition •addiction, affliction, benediction, constriction, conviction, crucifixion, depiction, dereliction, diction, eviction, fiction, friction, infliction, interdiction, jurisdiction, malediction, restriction, transfixion, valediction •distinction, extinction, intinction •ascription, circumscription, conscription, decryption, description, Egyptian, encryption, inscription, misdescription, prescription, subscription, superscription, transcription •proscription •concoction, decoction •adoption, option •abortion, apportion, caution, contortion, distortion, extortion, portion, proportion, retortion, torsion •auction •absorption, sorption •commotion, devotion, emotion, groschen, Laotian, locomotion, lotion, motion, notion, Nova Scotian, ocean, potion, promotion •ablution, absolution, allocution, attribution, circumlocution, circumvolution, Confucian, constitution, contribution, convolution, counter-revolution, destitution, dilution, diminution, distribution, electrocution, elocution, evolution, execution, institution, interlocution, irresolution, Lilliputian, locution, perlocution, persecution, pollution, prosecution, prostitution, restitution, retribution, Rosicrucian, solution, substitution, volution •cushion • resumption • München •pincushion •Belorussian, Prussian, Russian •abduction, conduction, construction, deduction, destruction, eduction, effluxion, induction, instruction, introduction, misconstruction, obstruction, production, reduction, ruction, seduction, suction, underproduction •avulsion, compulsion, convulsion, emulsion, expulsion, impulsion, propulsion, repulsion, revulsion •assumption, consumption, gumption, presumption •luncheon, scuncheon, truncheon •compunction, conjunction, dysfunction, expunction, function, junction, malfunction, multifunction, unction •abruption, corruption, disruption, eruption, interruption •T-junction • liposuction •animadversion, aspersion, assertion, aversion, Cistercian, coercion, conversion, desertion, disconcertion, dispersion, diversion, emersion, excursion, exertion, extroversion, immersion, incursion, insertion, interspersion, introversion, Persian, perversion, submersion, subversion, tertian, version •excerption

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"desertion." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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