Famous Deserts Of The World

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Famous Deserts of the World

Areas which receive as low as 250 millimeters of rainfall annually are attributed as deserts. These areas receive little or no precipitation at all and have vegetation which ranges from being sparse to none. Deserts are classified into various types, based on their geographical location. The types of deserts include trade wind deserts, mid-latitude deserts, rain shadow deserts, coastal deserts, monsoon deserts, polar deserts, and extraterrestrial deserts. Currently, it is accepted that one-fifth of the earth's surface is covered by these sandy barren lands.

Deserts Around the World

Antarctic Desert
With a whooping 14.0 million square kilometers, Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. Situated in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere, this desert is also the fifth largest of the seven continents of the world. An amazing fact about Antarctica is that it increases in its size during winter, due to the build up of sea ice around the coasts. More than 99% of the area is covered with ice and as on 21st July, 1983, the lowest temperature which was recorded in this continent was a chilling -89.2°C.

Sahara Desert
The largest of all the hot deserts around the world, and covering an area of 9,400,000 square kilometers, is the Sahara desert. It is known to be inhabited by 4 million people. In its northern parts, the desert has a sub tropical climate and in the south, a tropical one. Some of the sand dunes found in this region are known to be as high as 590 ft. The Sahara desert plants include grass, succulents, shrubs and trees. Fauna in the Sahara desert comprise dromedary camels and goats (the domesticated ones), deathstalker Scorpion, secretary bird, pale fox, spotted hyena, fennec fox, Nubian bustards, addax, the Sahara cheetah, monitor lizards, Sand vipers, hyrax, and ostrich.

Arabian Desert
This desert covers an area of 2,300,000 square kilometers, and stretches from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq. Calligonum crinitum, cornulaca Arabica, cyperus conglomeratus are the typical plants of this desert. The wildlife in this extreme environment include dromedary camel, gazelles, sand cats, oryx, spiny-tailed lizards, monitor lizard and Arabian cobra.

Gobi Desert
The word 'Gobi' itself means desert. It has an area of 1,295,000 square kilometers. Temperature ranges from -40°C in winter to +50°C in summer. Black-tailed gazelles, marbled polecats, Bactrian camels, Mongolian wild ass and sand plovers are the typical animals of this desert, and the sparse vegetation includes bushes and a dozen kinds of grasses and herbs.

Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari desert is largely covered by reddish sand and has an area of 900,000 square kilometers. Apart from different types of reptiles and birds, this desert is home to brown hyenas, lions, meerkats and several species of antelope. Camels, giraffes, and warthogs also inhabit the region, despite its aridity. Dry grassland and scrubby acacias comprise the vegetation.

Patagonian Desert
The Patagonian desert is the largest desert in Argentina, and occupies 673,000 square kilometers. The climate is divided into 7 months of summer and 5 months of winter. The burrowing owl, lesser rhea, guanaco, tuco-tuco, mara, and different species of eagle and hawk can be found in this region. Desert shrubs, tuft grass and aquatic grass on the outskirts are common to the Patagonian desert.

Great Victoria Desert
It is the largest desert in Australia having an area of 424,400 square kilometers. Marble gums, mulga and spinifex grass comprise the typical vegetation of this desert. The great desert skink, sandhill dunnart, mulgara, the dingo, the perentie, Gould's goanna, the water-holding frog, feral foxes and cats, comprise the fauna. Most of these animals are either endangered or are at the verge of extinction.

Chihuahua Desert
The second largest desert in North America, the Chihuahua desert covers a large area of about 362,600 square kilometers; making it rank third among the largest deserts of the Western Hemisphere. The desert has a mild temperature which ranges from 35 - 400C. Unlike other deserts, it is biologically more diverse and includes plants such as agave, creosote bush, mesquite tree, prickly pear, sotol, peyote and lechuguilla to name a few. It has a wide range of animal species ranging from desert cottontail, black-tailed jack rabbit, cactus mouse, kit fox, cactus wren to greater road runner. Reptiles include Mojave rattlesnake, coachwhip snake, new Mexican whiptail lizard, spinys, horned, collared and geckos. Red-spotted toads and barred tiger salamander can also be found on this desert.

Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran desert is said to cover 311,000 squares kilometers and is the wettest desert in the world. Also referred to as the Gila desert, its wildlife comprises banded Gila monster, javelina, bobcat, skunk, jackrabbit, coyote, Mexican wolf and cottontail. This desert is also known for the famous saguaro cactus which grows only in this place. Plants from agave family, palm family, cactus family, legume family and many others are all part of the flora of the Sonoran desert.

Great Sandy Desert
After the Great Victoria, this desert is the second largest one in Australia. According to the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage, the Great Sandy desert covers about 284,993 square kilometers. The fauna includes feral camels, thorny devils, bearded dragon lizards, red kangaroos, dingoes, etc. Bloodwood, acacias, grevilleas and desert oaks come in the list of the desert flora.

Thar Desert
Also known as the Great Indian desert, the Thar desert occupies an area of more than 200,000 square kilometers. Most of it is in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and runs into the southern portion of Haryana and Punjab. Desert animals such as the Great Indian Bustard, the black buck, the Indian Gazelle and the Indian Wild ass are found here. Eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, etc., are among the many species of birds that are commonly spotted in this region. The desert's wide variety of flora includes many types of tree species, small trees and shrubs and herbs.

Taklamakan Desert
This desert is China's largest desert with an area of 337,000 square kilometers. Tamarisk, nitre bushes and reeds are the only types of vegetation found on the desert, however, it gets richer along the edges of the desert. Long-eared Jerboa, Bactrian camels, and Asian wild ass comprise the sparse population of animals in Taklamakan desert.

Gibson Desert
The Gibson desert of Western Australia, has a coverage of 155,000 square kilometers. It was named after Alfred Gibson, an explorer who died during an expedition in the same desert. It is characterized by sand plains, dune fields and lateritic gibber plains. Mulga and shrubs are its main vegetation, and feral pig, fox, rabbit, wild dogs, feral cat and camel are known to be the animal species native to the desert.

Simpson Desert
With an area of 176,500 square kilometers, the Simpson desert contains the world's longest parallel sand dunes, and is known as the fourth largest Australian desert. Water-holding frog, kowari, lizards and marsupials are the common inhabitants among the animals found on the desert. There are about 800 species of plants which are found in the Simpson desert.

Atacama Desert
Known to be one of the driest places and covering an area of 105,000 square kilometers, the Atacama desert receives rainfall which is as less as 1 millimeter. It is also one of the oldest deserts in the world and due to its extremely harsh environment, its sparse population of humans, animals and plants is understandable. In some portions, there is no trace of even micro organisms such as bacteria or fungus.

Namib Desert
Attributed as the world's oldest desert, the Namib desert has an area of about 81,000 square kilometers. Due to the formation of thick fog from the Atlantic, there is enough moisture for the species to survive even in the hardy conditions of this desert. The tenebrionid beetle, Namib desert beetle, Lepidochora discoidalis, the black-backed jackal, desert lizards and web-footed gecko are among the common animals found on this desert. Common plants include low-lying shrubs, pencil plants, dollar plants and the famous one which Charles Darwin described as "platypus of the plant kingdom" - the welwitschia plant, are among the common inhabitants of the Namib desert.

Dasht-e Kavir Desert
The Dasht-e Kavir desert of the Iranian plateau, has a surface area of about 77,600 square kilometers. Shrubs and grasses are the common plant species here and as far as wildlife is concerned, the common animals include Persian gazelles, wild sheep, goats, and leopards. Wolves, foxes, lizards and snakes are also scattered in different parts of the desert.

Mojave Desert
Southern Nevada, Western Arizona, Southwestern Utah, and Southeastern California come within the Mojave desert, which covers an area of 25,000 square kilometers. Plants which have adapted themselves to the environment of the desert are joshua tree, pinyon pine, mesquite, California juniper and many other types of cactus and shrubs. The desert has a wide range of animals and birds; common examples include gopher snake, hummingbird, kangaroo rat, Mojave green rattlesnake, Mojave ground squirrel, rosy boa, tarantula, and Western Diamondback Rattlesnake to name a few.

So you can see that there are no major differences between the environment and habitat among the types of deserts which have been briefly described in the above description. These deserts do not have much to offer when it comes to the factors necessary for survival. However, they are still inhabited by different living species and have retained their attraction for those few desert lovers!
 
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