Dessert

Mason Chirafis

Location

Many desserts form the 30 degrees latitude north and 30 degrees latitude south. Usually between the red lines on the map below. Other desserts form near mountains. They form near mountains, because of the rainshadow effect. As clouds travel over the mountains the air gets cold and can't hold moisture as easily, so it rains and snows on top of the mountains. As it goes down the other side of the mountain it heats up. Warm air holds moisture better than cold air, so it doesn't rain. That is where and why desserts form.

General Characteristics

Deserts are hot and dry places. They get less than ten inches of rain every year. Temperatures can go over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and be in the 40s and 50s at night. Very few things live there do to the lack of rain.

Weather and Climate

Most deserts have hot summers and the rest of the year is warm. It hardly rains and when it does it usually rains in short bursts. Sometimes when it rains the rain evaporates before hitting the ground! In the morning it is usually 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above and in the 40s to 50s at night.

Temperature

Most desert's temperatures are very hot during the day and very cold at night. They are about 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and in the 40s and 50s at night. The reason it is so cold at night is, because deserts don't have much moisture in the air to hold in heat.

Precipitation

The average yearly precipitation in deserts is 10 inches. The lack of rain comes from the rainshadow effect. Since most deserts form by mountains as clouds travel over the mountains the air gets cold and can't hold moisture as easily, so it rains and snows on top of the mountains. As it goes down the other side of the mountain it heats up. Warm air holds moisture better than cold air, so it doesn't rain. That is why it doesn't rain in deserts much.

Landforms

The dessert only has a couple landforms. Some deserts have platues and canyons. A platues (below) is like a mountain in a way, but platues have straight sides and flat tops. There are also some deserts that have canyons. Canyons are pits where the rock was worn away, usually from a river that probably use to be there.

Animals

For animals to survive in the desert they have to have many special adaptations. Many animals adapt to the lack of water by getting water from seeds or plants. To survive the heat most animals are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and hunt at night. Some even live underground for most of the year. The kangaroo mice, the bilby, red kangaroo, Addax, Catus Wren, and the Desert Lark are examples of animals that have adapted to live in the desert.

Plants

Short grasses, sagebrush, creosote bushes, cacti, dragon tree, and the aloe are some plants you might find in a desert. Unlike other plants these plants have special adaptations that help them survive in the desert. Some have the ability to store water in roots, steams, leaves, or fruit. Some also have long roots that stretch far beyond the plants's base, so when it does rain they collect even more water.

Human Impact

Humans do many things in deserts. Mining, grazing, road building, and utility projects are some of the things that take place in deserts. But the uses of the desert are managed to protect the plants, animals, and their habitat.