Deserts are areas of the Earth’s surface which recieve less than 25cm or 10 inches of rainfall every year. They contain little or no vegetation. The main characteristics of deserts are:
- rare clouds
- little rain
- very hot days
- very cold nights
The reasons for these characteristics are mainly because of the location of deserts.
What are the characteristics of deserts?
There is very little rainfall in the desert ecosystem, typically less than 250mm per year falls. It is difficult to predict rainfall; it may only rain once every two or three years. The daily range in temperatures is very high. During the day temperatures could reach 50°C whereas on the night they can be as low as -2°C
Soils are usually very shallow. They usually have a rough gravelly texture. The soil isn’t very fertile because there is very little vegetation to provide litter and humus. Therefore there is little or no little layer. Due to lack of organic material and rainfall desert soil is often dry and infertile.
Plant growth is very limited as there is a lack of rainfall. The type of plants that are typically found in deserts include cacti and thornbushes. Plants tend to be short however some cacti can grow tall. Most plants have a short life-cycle and only appear when it rains.
In order to survive the desert environment animals have to adapt to survive. Mammals are often small and nocturnal; they only come out at night when temperatures are low. They sleep below the ground during the day to avoid the heat. The majority of birds only return to the desert when the climate is favourable.
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