Desert

Ashton Goebel

Location

Deserts cover about one-fifth of the earth. They can be in many places on Earth. Most deserts are found in northern and southern Africa, southern and mid-Asia, most of Australia, southern South America, and western North America.

Characteristics

Almost everyone knows that deserts are dry, and usually hot. It's a simple fact. But some deserts are cold, such as the Atacama Desert on the coasts of Peru and Chile. Even in the extreme dryness, the desert is full of exotic plant and animal life.

Types of Deserts

There are four types of deserts: arid, semi-arid, coastal, and cold.

Arid- Arid deserts occur in low latitudes, their seasons are typically hot and dry, and rain may come a few times in the winter. (Sahara Desert)

Semi-Arid- The seasons are more defined than in arid deserts. Rainfall is still low, but some animal and plant life thrive. (Great Basin)

Coastal- These are found in warm and cool places. The soil (sand) does not hold water very well, so plant life has thick foliage and good water retention. (Atacama Desert)

Cold- In the winter, the desert receives a moderate amount of rain and snow. The cold desert does not sustain delicate plant and animal life. (Gobi Desert)

Abiotic Factors

Weather and Climate

Climates in deserts vary because deserts are found almost anywhere in the world. Some are hot, some are cold, and some may get more rainfall than others. But the weather is very similar in most deserts. Rain is scarce.

Temperature

In hot deserts, it is very hot during the day, but cold at night. The average yearly temperatures in a desert are 75*-104* F (24*- 40* C).

Precipitation

All deserts get very little rain. Deserts usually get less than 10 inches (25 cm) of rain per year! But when it does rain, it is usually in short, unpredictable bursts.

Landforms

Mountains

Some deserts have mountains and most have sand dunes, which are giant piles of sand. Others have buttes.

Bodies of Water

The Nile River, the longest river in the world, is located in the eastern Sahara Desert. It is usually so hot in the desert that some bodies of water evaporate. An oasis is formed when the desert goes below sea level. When the elevation is below sea level, underground springs come up from the sand and create pools.

Canyons

The Grand Canyon is considered to be in a desert biome because it gets little rainfall and the it is usually hot. Also, the Grand Canyon supports most of the same plant and animal life as the desert.

Biotic Factors

Animals

Plants

You may think that the dry, hot desert would not support plant life. But it does! In fact, deserts have the second most variety of plant life in a biome!

Joshua Tree

Ecological Concerns and Issues

Catastrophic Events

The loose sand and dry wind in a desert can cause sand storms.

Human Impact

People like to go to the desert for recreation. It is a good way to get away from the noise of the city. Some other things that are done in the desert are mining, road building, and utility projects. We have to protect the desert because it is so sensitive.