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Did You Know?

  • The scientific definition of a desert is a place that has very little vegetation and receives less than 10 inches of rain eay year.
  • Deserts can be hot or cold.
  • Warm deserts include the Mohave Desert, the Sonoran Desert and the Chihuahuan Desert.
  • Some deserts are called rain shadow deserts because they occur where large mountains block the path of rain-bearing wind and by the time it reaches the other side, it carries no rain clouds.
  • Cold Deserts occur in Nevada and Utah and lie in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades.
  • Less than 100 years ago, it was impossible to cross the vast Saharan and Arabian deserts without the help of a camel.
  • Thirsty camels can drink up to 30 gallons of water in one sitting and then go for over a week without water.
  • The Atacama Desert is the driest in the world.
  • Death Valley, California, is the hottest, driest area of the United States.
  • Over 400 million tons of African soil is blown west over the Atlantic Ocean every year.  In 1988 hundreds of tiny pink, Saharan frogs rained down on a British village during a bad storm.

Where are deserts?

Most deserts lie along the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.  Here, and in other desert regions, dry air currents blow across the land.  These dry air currents can blow hot or cold but they rarely carry rainclouds.  This map shows the main desert areas of the world.

Scholastic, Inc.  "Life in the Deserts"

What organisms (plant or animal) are typically found in the desert biome?

In a cold desert, sagebrush, winterfat, Morman tea, prickly pear and cheatgrass are typical of the vegetation.
In a warm desert, creosote bush, bur sage, and the Joshua tree are common plants.



Introduction | What are biomes? | Middle School Student | Whole Group Discussion | Teacher Resources | References
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