Dry Climates

Science for Kids Website on Dry Climate - Image of a Dry Climate Region
Science for Kids Website on Dry Climate - Image of a Dry Climate Region

A dry climate is characterized by low levels of precipitation and humidity, resulting in a scarcity of water resources. This type of climate is often found in desert regions, where the lack of moisture can create harsh living conditions for plants, animals, and humans.

The dry climate can also lead to increased evaporation rates and soil erosion, making it challenging for agriculture and vegetation to thrive. Additionally, the dry climate can contribute to the formation of dust storms and wildfires, posing risks to both the environment and human health.

Dry Climate Facts For Kids

  • Dry climates have little rain or snow.
  • They can be hot like deserts or cold like tundra.
  • Many dry places have sandy soil.
  • Cacti thrive in these climates.
  • Animals adapt, like camels storing water.
  • Days are often sunny and bright.
  • Nights in deserts can be very cold.
  • Plants have small leaves to limit water loss.
  • Dry climates have high evaporation rates.
  • Some dry areas have seasonal rainfall.

Desert Biomes

Desert biomes, recognized for their arid or dry climate, are challenging habitats that receive less than 10 inches of rainfall annually. This scarcity of water creates a hostile environment for most life forms, yet several species have evolved to prosper despite these severe conditions.

Cacti, for instance, have developed thick, waxy skins to minimize water loss, while camels are equipped with humps that store fat, which can be transformed into water and energy as needed. The desert climate is marked by extreme temperature fluctuations—often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and dropping significantly at night due to the absence of cloud cover to retain the day’s heat.

Despite these harsh realities, deserts host a diversity of life, underscoring the remarkable resilience and adaptability of nature.


Drought, a natural occurrence, arises when an area undergoes a prolonged dry climate, devoid of adequate rainfall to sustain the regular life processes of plants, animals, and humans, potentially lasting for months or even years. Throughout this period, the soil hardens due to its dryness, thereby hindering plant growth.

Simultaneously, bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and reservoirs may deplete, adversely impacting the residing wildlife and diminishing water supplies for urban and rural areas. This water scarcity can also precipitate food shortages as farmers depend on water for crop irrigation. It’s crucial to note that while weather patterns are beyond human control, individual efforts to conserve water can help alleviate drought impacts.


The remarkable species of plants known as xerophytes have evolved to endure the harsh conditions of dry climates like deserts, where the annual rainfall is less than 25 centimeters, a challenging environment for most vegetation.

Xerophytes are equipped with special characteristics such as a thick, waxy skin, and minimal leaves to decrease water evaporation. Certain types can even store water within their robust stems or leaves. Examples of xerophytes include cacti, aloe vera, and some varieties of succulents, all of which exemplify the incredible adaptability and resilience of life in even the most severe conditions.


In arid regions characterized by scant or unpredictable rainfall, natural plant growth is often a challenge, necessitating the use of irrigation. This agricultural practice proves essential for farmers, allowing them to channel water directly from sources such as rivers, lakes, or reservoirs to their fields, effectively creating a controlled rain system for their crops. Irrigation enhances the viability of year-round crop cultivation, even in periods of minimal rainfall, thereby mitigating the challenges posed by dry climatic conditions. However, the proper management of irrigation is critical in order to avoid the detrimental effects of both overwatering and underwatering the crops.


Evaporation, the intriguing process of water transforming into vapor and ascending into the atmosphere, occurs more rapidly in dry climates. The reasons behind this phenomenon lie in the lower humidity levels characteristic of such climates, which implies the air already carries less water vapor.

Consequently, the air has the capacity to absorb more water from various sources such as the ground, vegetation, and bodies of water such as lakes or puddles. This capacity accelerates the rate of evaporation.

A practical illustration of this process can be observed when a glass of water is left outdoors on a hot, dry day. The water level in the glass would deplete at a faster rate compared to a cooler, humid day, demonstrating the workings of evaporation.

Arid regions

Arid regions, commonly referred to as deserts, present an incredibly intriguing dry climate due to receiving less than 10 inches of annual rainfall, creating an intensely hot and dry environment. This water scarcity poses survival challenges for many flora and fauna, however, those which thrive have evolved special adaptations to withstand the severe conditions.

The daily temperature in these regions can soar to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and plummet below freezing at night! Yet, in spite of this harsh environment, arid regions harbor distinct species such as cacti and camels, and even some resilient human populations have adapted to these conditions.

Sahara Desert

The Sahara Desert, located in Northern Africa, is a paramount example of a dry climate and holds the title of the world’s largest hot desert. Its unique ecosystem of plants and animals has evolved specifically to withstand harsh conditions.

The desert’s annual rainfall is minimal, with certain areas receiving less than an inch. Temperature extremes can be experienced in the Sahara, with daytime summer heat reaching up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, while the absence of the sun’s warmth makes night temperatures drop to near freezing. This drastic fluctuation in temperature is due to the dry air’s inability to retain heat, causing it to cool rapidly.


Cacti are fascinating plants that are uniquely equipped to flourish in arid climates, primarily due to their specialized features enabling them to survive with minimal water. They are typically indigenous to desert regions where rainfall is infrequent.

A cool fact that children might find interesting is the cacti’s ability to store water within their thick, fleshy stems, which they can utilize during extended drought periods. Their adaptation to dry climates is further demonstrated by their spines, which replace the typical leaves of other plants. These spines diminish water loss through evaporation, meaning a cactus can remain hydrated even in the absence of rain for prolonged periods.

Water conservation

Arid or semi-arid regions, commonly referred to as dry climate regions, are characterized by a higher rate of water evaporation from the ground than its replenishment through precipitation. This results in a scarcity of water, making it a valuable resource. Therefore, it is crucial to conserve water in these areas, as wastage is not an option.

Children can actively contribute to water conservation efforts by adopting simple measures like reducing shower time, turning off taps while brushing their teeth, and watering plants at cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late evening, to minimize evaporation. In these dry climates, it is important to bear in mind that every drop of water counts!


Desertification is a phenomenon where fertile lands transition into dry, desert-like environments due to factors such as climate change and human activities. This process is especially rapid in dry climates characterized by minimal rainfall and elevated temperatures.

For example, infrequent rainfall results in insufficient water for the soil to sustain plant life. In the absence of plants, the soil becomes arid and hardened, creating unfavorable conditions for future plant growth and gradually transforming these regions into deserts.

It’s critical to comprehend that the implications of desertification extend beyond environmental concerns, impacting human lives as well. Residents of such areas often find themselves compelled to abandon their homes in pursuit of better living conditions, given the inability to cultivate crops or access water.

Fun Geography Facts for Kids All about Dry Climates - Cracking Ground Because of No Moisture
Fun Geography Facts for Kids All about Dry Climates – Cracking Ground Because of No Moisture

An arid area is one that gets no more than 12 inches of rain each year. Arid areas are usually deserts. Few plants, animals and people can survive here. Semi-arid areas are ones that get enough rainfall to allow grasses to grow. Colorado, for example, has miles and miles of prairie-land. With irrigation water crops can grow here.

Science for Kids Website All about Dry Climates - Image of a Dry Climate Region
Science for Kids Website All about Dry Climates – Image of a Dry Climate Region

Fun Facts about Dry Climates

  • The hottest temperatures in the world – up to 136 degrees Fahrenheit – are recorded in arid regions, such as the deserts of Africa.
  • Some arid areas, such as Atacama Desert in Chile, South America, get less than ½ inch of rain annually.
  • Australia’s outback is a semi-arid region.
  • Sometimes semi-arid regions are caused by a mountain, which blocks warm, moist air. Denver, Colorado sits east of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains block moisture from reaching the city.
Easy Science for Kids All about Dry Climates - Image of a Dry Land caused by a Dry Climate
Easy Science for Kids All about Dry Climates – Image of a Dry Land caused by a Dry Climate

Dry Climates Vocabulary

  1. Altitude: how high an area sits from sea level
  2. Continental: on the continent; Hawaii and Alaska are not considered part of the continental U.S.
  3. Prairie-land: miles of grassy plains
  4. Irrigation: artificial watering from canals, reservoirs and sprinklers
  5. Moisture: water

Learn All about Dry Climates

This is the best video we found for kids to learn all about Dry Climates:

An educational video that discusses about the characteristics of places that have dry climates.

Dry Climates Q&A

Question: What other areas of the U.S. have dry climates?

Answer: Much of the West is arid or semi-arid. Northern Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Southern Utah and even parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana could be considered semi-arid.