Are usually considered deserts those geographical areas consisting of vast expanses of sand and characterized by very high temperatures and low rainfall. However, the term desert is also used to indicate areas that have different characteristics than these, as deserts are more generally characterized by the following features:
- very little precipitation
- almost total absence of inhabitants
- almost completely non-existent vegetation.
There is a growing number of deserts in every continent across the globe. Hot deserts may contain sand dunes of different types, resulting from the shifting of sand granules by the constructive force of the wind or sea. Cold-weather deserts are the result of the lack of vegetation due to unsuitable environmental conditions. The Antarctica desert is the largest desert in the world, with the Sahara being the largest hot desert.
Types of Desert
Hot deserts are those typical of tropical areas. They are characterized by considerable diurnal thermal excursions (for example the temperature during the day exceeds 50° C while during the night it goes down to few centigrade degrees above zero).
Semi-arid deserts are found in Europe, North America, Russia and northern Asia. They are similar to arid deserts but have more defined seasons, with long, hot summers and minimal precipitation during the winter. Summer temperatures are not as intense as arid deserts and nighttime temperatures tend to be cooler. In the United States, semi-arid deserts are found in Utah, Montana, and throughout the Great Basin, which extends from California and Nevada to Mexico.
Coastal deserts have moderately short winter seasons. Despite being close to water sources, these deserts remain remarkably dry because most of the precipitation occurs in the oceans, leaving negligible amounts of rain to spill onto the land.
Cold deserts are characterized by significant annual temperature changes (for example, the temperature in summer exceeds 40 ° C while in winter it drops to -30 ° C) while the daily temperature changes are much more modest. The Gobi Desert, in Mongolia, is an example of a cold desert.
Polar deserts are found in the polar regions, i.e. the arctics and Antarctica. They are characterized by intense cold and huge expanses of perennial ice for this reason they are also called white deserts.
World Desert List
List of deserts from all continents in the world. Sorted alphabetically or by geographical area, size, and morphology.
|Name||Type||Area (km²)||Area (mi²)||Location|
|Antarctica||Polar Ice and Tundra||14,000,000||5,405,000||Antarctica|
|Arabian Desert||Subtropical||2,330,000||900,000||Western Asia (Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen)|
|Atacama Desert||Mild Coastal||140,000||54,000||South America (Chile and Peru)|
|Chihuahuan Desert||Subtropical||450,000||175,000||Central America (Mexico)|
Northern America (United States)
|Colorado Plateau||Cold Winter||337,000||130,000||United States|
|Columbia Basin||Cold Winter||83,100||32,100||United States|
|Gobi Desert||Cold Winter||1,295,000||500,000||Eastern Asia (China and Mongolia)|
|Great Basin||Cold Winter||492,000||190,000||United States|
|Kalahari Desert||Subtropical||900,000||360,000||Southern Africa (Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa)|
|Karakum Desert||Cold Winter||350,000||135,000||Turkmenistan|
|Kyzylkum Desert||Cold Winter||300,000||115,000||Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan)|
|Mojave Desert||Subtropical||124,000||48,000||United States|
|Namib Desert||Cool Coastal||81,000||31,000||Middle Africa (Angola)|
Southern Africa (Namibia and South Africa)
|Patagonian Desert||Cold Winter||620,000||200,000||South America (Argentina and Chile)|
|Sahara Desert||Subtropical||9,000,000+||3,300,000+||Eastern Africa (Eritrea)|
Middle Africa (Chad)
Northern Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, the Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara)
Western Africa (Mali, Mauritania, and Niger)
|Sonoran Desert||Subtropical||310,000||120,000||Central America (Mexico)|
Northern America (United States)
|Syrian Desert||Subtropical||520,000||200,000||Western Asia (Iraq, Jordan, and Syria)|
|Taklamakan Desert||Cold Winter||270,000||105,000||China|
|Thar Desert||Subtropical||200,000||77,000||Southern Asia (India and Pakistan)|
List of Pseudo-Deserts
- Desert of Maine
- Joaquina Beach
- Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
- Accona Desert
- Tottori Sand Dunes
- Sleeping Bear Dunes
- Red Desert (South Africa)
- Słowiński National Park
- Carcross Desert
- Chara Sands
- Osoyoos Desert
- Dunas dos Ingleses
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