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The Desert Biome - Windows to the Universe

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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.

The Desert Biome

Deserts are full of interesting questions. How can anything survive in a place with hardly any water? Why is it so dry to begin with?

You can find at least one desert on every continent except Europe. Each desert is different in some way, but they all have one thing in common. In order for an area of land to be considered a desert, it must receive less than 10 inches of water a year.

Clouds are scarce in deserts. Without clouds, there can't be rain, snow, or any other precipitation. Clouds also shade the land, so without them, the desert gets mighty hot as the Sun beats down during the day. At night, the desert can become very cold, because there isn't moisture in the air to hold onto the heat.

The geology in deserts differs depending on the location. Some deserts have sand dunes - great waves of sand weathered from rock, that move over time as wind blows the sediment. Other deserts have no dunes but instead have unique rock formations carved by wind and streams that only flow when there is moisture.

Many plants and animals survive in these vast, dry lands. Learn more about life in the desert by exploring the links below.

Desert Plants
Desert Insects and Arachnids
Desert Reptiles
Desert Birds
Desert Mammals
Camels

 

Last modified October 15, 2011 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF