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Desert Facts

Deserts are characterized by their lack of rainfall. They often receive fewer than ten inches of rain per year. They have dry soil, little to no surface water, and rapid evaporation. They are so parched that rain evaporates before it reaches the ground.

Desert Facts for Kids

  • A desert receives less than 10 inches of rain a year
  • A lot of the animals that live in the desert are nocturnal
  • The Sahara is the largest hot desert on Earth
  • Antarctica is the largest cold desert on Earth
  • 20 percent of the world’s land surface is desert
  • Animals have learned to adapt to desert conditions
  • Deserts land surfaces can be very different – some examples are stones, snow, and sand
  • The Sahara Desert is in northern Africa and spreads its sand across 12 countries.
  • The second-largest hot desert on Earth is the Arabian Desert in the Middle East.

What is a Desert?

Deserts are dry regions of terrain with limited rainfall. This leads to harsh living conditions for plants and animals. Without vegetation, the ground is open to erosion.

One-third of the planet’s land surface is dry or semi-dry. In polar areas, little precipitation occurs.  Rainfall,  temperature, and location can categorize a desert.

What does the word Desert mean?

It means ‘abandoned place,’ which is spot on for these places that have harsh conditions.

It’s a region that has less than an adequate supply of water for its plants to survive.

There are areas in the Arctic and Antarctica that have no ice, and they’re called polar deserts.

Only 20% of the deserts on Earth have sand.

Cold deserts are areas that have ice or snow. Hot deserts are the ones in warmer areas.

Facts for Kids x
Facts for Kids

List of Deserts 

Africa

North America

  • Great Basin desert
  • Chihuahuan desert
  • Sonoran desert
  • Colorado desert
  • Yuma desert
  • Mojave desert

South America

  • Patagonian desert
  • Atacama desert
  • Asia desert
  • Arabian desert
  • Rubʿ al-Khali desert
  • Gobi desert
  • Kyzylkum desert
  • Takla Makan desert
  • Karakum desert
  • Kavir desert
  • Syrian desert
  • Thar desert
  • Lut desert

Australia

  • Great Victoria desert
  • Great Sandy desert
  • Gibson desert
  • Simpson desert

The Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert in the north of China and the south of Mongolia is expanding. This is because of something called desertification.

Desertification is where fertile land becomes desert. It’s a result of deforestation, drought, environmental changes, and humans introducing agriculture.

It is famous for its dunes, mountains, and wildlife, such as snow leopards and Bactrian camels. It covers an area of 500,000 square miles in both Mongolia and China.

Gobi Desert Facts

  • Most of the Gobi Desert is bare rock
  • Only 5% is sand dunes
  • In winter it snows
  • Temperatures can change by 35°C within a 24-hour period.
  • The Khongor sand dune is 12km broad, 180km long, and 80m tall.
  • It holds archaeological importance.
  • Fossils discovered include the first dinosaur eggs unearthed in 1923

Surviving in the Hot Desert 

The temperature on average in deserts can be 38°C during the day. It important to have the right clothes and equipment.

At night this temperature can drop to -4°C.

Both day and night, the temperature can change between 35°C on average. There are few trees or plants in the desert, which means that there is no shade.

Life in the Desert

Even though deserts have severe weather, a few creatures and plants like to call this home.

You find some shrubs and cacti, and you’ll also find animals such as lizards, rattlesnakes, and coyotes.

Most of the animals that live in the desert only come out at night when the temperature is cooler. It’s too hot to go out during the day.

List of Desert Animals

Mammals

  • Bobcat
  • Coyote
  • Jack Rabbit
  • Mountain Lion
  • Fennec Fox

Birds

Reptiles

  • Rattlesnake
  • Desert Tortoise
  • Desert Iguana
  • Horned Lizard
Rattlesnake

Desert Oasis

At times you’ll find water in the desert. This water source is an oasis and is usually surrounded by greenery.

To keep the desert sands away from sensitive crops and water, people plant sturdy trees. They plant trees like palms along the edge of the oasis.

Desert plants like cacti have padded leaves that store water during a drought.

Cacti make use of structural adaptations. They have shallow roots, persistent spines, and robust stalks.

Water stores in succulent plants’ leaves, stems, and roots. Cacti have adapted to endure the harsh, arid desert environment.

Desert Dust Storms

Be careful of a dust storm!

If the wind decides to pick up some speed, it picks up dust from the surface.

These dust storms can be up to nearly 2m high and can travel hundreds of kilometres.

Some are also called Haboob, and these can be massive as you can see in the photo below

Haboob Sandstorm

As it’s so hot, some animals have also found ways to survive in the desert.

The camel is pretty smart too.

As body fat keeps heat locked in, the animals normally store all their body fat in one area and the camel keeps it all nicely protected in its hump.

Cool huh!

Things to do in the desert

If you think a desert would be boring, it can actually be some serious fun;

  • You can go rock climbing
  • Dirt biking
  • Riding on camels
  • Hiking

Just remember to keep loads of water with you.

What are 5 interesting facts about the desert?

  • Less than 10 inches of rain falls in a desert during a year.
  • Many animals that live in the desert are nocturnal
  • The Sahara can get to are over 40 °C during the summer
  • There are four significant types of deserts – hot and dry desert, semiarid desert, coastal desert, and cold desert.
  • About 20 percent of Earths land surface is desert

Did you know that there is a desert on every single continent except for Europe

After everything you now know about deserts, do you think you’ll be