Desert movies have left our heads full of caravans, endless dunes, sun and thirst, but the world’s deserts are much more varied than it seems.
Now that the cold and rain are starting, we might want to walk more in a warm, dry place. How about we take it to the extreme? Deserts are the areas of the planet where it rains the least, and some of them have the highest temperatures. However, there are exceptions.
Although the word desert makes us think of sand and dromedaries, it is the rain that defines an area as a desert, and that may surprise us.
What is the biggest desert in the world? Antarctica, with 14.2 million square kilometers. Despite being covered in ice, this continent receives only 10 mm of rain per year. Lands within the Arctic Circle rank second at 13.7 million square kilometers.
In addition to these two frozen deserts, the driest areas on the planet are hot and sandy. These are the biggest deserts on Earth.
The Sahara is the largest subtropical desert in the world, covering 9.2 million square kilometers. It covers eleven countries and covers almost a third of Africa. It is known above all for its scorching climate and its mountain dunes that reach 183 meters in height. Despite these harsh conditions, it is home to various desert animals such as camels, lizards and scorpions. Water sources are scarce, but the Sahara has two rivers and twenty seasonal lakes.
The Arabian is the second largest subtropical desert in the world after the Sahara. It covers most of the Arabian Peninsula in Asia and measures approximately 2.3 million square kilometers. It is a barren and sandy landscape, but surprisingly rich in natural resources such as oil and sulfur. Summer temperatures can reach 50 degrees during the day but drop dramatically at night. Lobsters and beetles are the animals native to this desolate region.
The Gobi Desert is the fifth largest in the world. It covers parts of Mongolia and China and measures 1.3 million square kilometers. Its terrain is mostly rocky and unpaved, which has made it a valuable trade route throughout history. Like all traditional semi-arid deserts, the Gobi experiences extremely high temperatures during the summer and cold temperatures during the winter. It is also considered a rain-shadowed desert because the high peaks of the Himalayas block out clouds and rain.
Located in Argentina, the Patagonian Desert or Steppe, the sixth largest in the world. It measures approximately 0.67 million square kilometers, flanked to the west by the Andes, the largest mountain range in the world, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Being a semi-arid desert, it shares similar characteristics with the Gobi Desert. Frosts cover the ground during winter, but snow is uncommon due to the dryness of the region.
Great Victoria Wilderness
Greater Victoria is a subtropical desert located in Australia. It is the seventh largest desert in the world at 0.65 million square kilometers and comprises a huge expanse of sand, rocks, compacted earth and grasslands. In summer, temperatures reach forty degrees Celsius. Like most subtropical deserts, it is cooler during the winter, but still quite warm.
The Kalahari is a subtropical desert located in southern Africa. It covers parts of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, and is the eighth largest desert in the world at 0.56 million km2. Interestingly, it is classified as semi-desert, as it periodically goes through rainy years that leave precipitation that, on average, takes it out of the desert classification. Wild animals like meerkats, hyenas, kudus and wildebeest live here.
the big basin
At 0.49 million square kilometers, the Great Basin is one of the four great deserts in North America, covering most of Nevada and Utah. It is located north of the Mojave Desert and is a dry expanse of clay, silt and sand. However, it is a semi-arid desert, which receives a fair amount of snow during the winter months. Here is what is considered to be the oldest living thing in the world, a 4,950-year-old Bristlecone pine.
The Syrian Desert, also known as the Syrian or Jordanian steppe, is the tenth largest desert in the world and measures approximately 0.49 million square kilometers. It covers several Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Despite the name, it covers more Jordan than Syria. As a subtropical desert, it is an arid landscape of rock and gravel, and its rare indigenous fauna is currently threatened by drought, overgrazing and hunting.
Quo Science Travel section sponsored by Hyundai