When you think of a desert, what do you think of? Perhaps you think of the Mojave Desert in California or the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Maybe you think of the Sahara Desert in Africa . All of these deserts are hot climate deserts. These deserts are near the equator and they stay warm year-round. But not all deserts are hot. Antarctica is the largest desert on the Earth and the coldest temperature recorded here was -113 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also find cold deserts in Greenland, Mongolia and other parts of Asia. Coastal deserts lie near the coasts. They may get more rainfall than other types of deserts, but they’re still pretty dry.
- A desert is any place that rarely gets rainfall. These areas usually have cloudless skies.
- Even hot deserts get cold at night. The cloudless skies allow heat to escape.
- Trees and plants must adapt to living in the desert. Most plants and trees have thorns to discourage animals from eating them. They may also have thick, fleshy leaves that store water.
- Animals must also adapt if they’re to survive in the desert. Scorpions and spiders are usually venomous. One bite paralyzes their victims so they can’t escape.
- Mammals, such as mice, ground squirrels and kangaroo rats, burrow below the ground where the air is cooler.
- Snakes, including diamond back rattlesnakes, are well-adapted to living in the desert. They burrow under the ground when they get too warm.
- Equator: an imaginary line running around the middle of the Earth
- Adapt: change to adjust to a new situation or living condition
- Fleshy: padded, thick
- Venomous: an animal that injects poison in its prey
- Paralyze: unable to move
Visit the University of California Santa Barbara to learn more about deserts.
Question: Do all deserts have sand?
Answer: Most deserts do have poor, sandy soil. The Empty Quarter in the Arabian Desert is covered with sand dunes and little else. Most deserts have enough soil to grow cactus, scrubby shrubs and small trees. Antarctica is covered not in sand, but ice.