An interesting insight on global desert variety
A cloudless blue sky with a blazing sun heating up the harsh, inhospitable area to temperatures well over 40 degrees Celsius. This is the picture most people will draw if they are asked ‘What is the weather like in a desert?’. Are they right? Yes and no.
Scientifically an area is classified as a desert when it receives less than 250 mm of rainfall a year. Based on their geographic situation there are four types of deserts. Polar deserts, subtropical deserts, cold winter deserts and cool coastal deserts. And within these types the desert variety is big.
Deserts are found all across the world and cover about one-third of our planet’s surface. A combination of climate and geography result in extremely dry and arid areas in specific regions on our planet. There are 33 major deserts in the world. Which can be subdivided into 71 smaller deserts:
- Asia – 26 deserts
- Africa – 12 deserts
- Australia – 10 deserts
- Europe – 10 deserts
- South America – 5 deserts
- North America – 4 deserts
- Arctic – 3 deserts
- Antarctica – 1 desert
Except for Europe, all continents have one or more deserts in the top 10 biggest deserts of our planet. Roughly half of all the land in the Middle East is desert. Wadi Rum is part of the Syrian desert.
Top 10 deserts and continents according to maps of the world:
1. Antarctic desert, Antarctica
2. Arctic, polar region
3. Sahara, Africa
4.Arabian desert (Middle East) Asia
5. Gobi desert, Asia
6. Kalahari desert, Africa
7. Patagonian desert, South America
8. Great Victoria desert, Australia
9. Syrian desert (Middle East) Asia
10. Great Basin desert, North America
Deserts are much more than just vast sandy places with little water. The deserts on our planet are extremely diverse, and each is unique in its own way. We will give some examples to illustrate the desert variety and the significant differences between deserts.
The largest and coldest desert
The largest desert on earth is the cold desert of Antarctic. Technically speaking it is the wettest place on earth. As 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice. Still, the annual rainfall is less than 250 mm per year which makes this big, brutally cold, icy tundra a desert area. Another well-known cold desert is the Gobi desert in Asia.
The largest hot desert
The largest and one of the hottest desert is the Sahara. It is as big as the United States and the day temperatures can be well over 50 degrees Celsius. This desert is known for its beautiful wind-shaped sand dunes. Did you know that less than 10% of all desert areas are covered by sand dunes? And did you know that the highest temperature ever measured is 70.7 in the Lut desert in Iran.
The driest non-polar desert
The driest hot desert on earth is the Atacama desert. It get less than half a centimeter of precipitation per year. It comes from condensed fog rather than rain. This desert borders the Pacific coastline of Chili. At the end of last October the large parts of the desert bloomed pink after historic rainfall.
The oldest desert
The Namib desert has the world’s highest sand dunes. Some of the dunes in the Sossusvlei are around 300 meter high. The Namib desert is considered the oldest desert in the world. It has a wide variety of species of plants and animals that can only be found here. And maybe most special, it is home to the elephants.
The biggest salt desert
Salar de Uyuni is a salt desert. It is located in the southwest of Bolivia at an altitude of 3656 meter above sea level. This desert contains 50-70% of the world lithium reserves. The endless consistent white landscape and lack of reference points amazes and baffles visitors.
Deserts also come in a variety of colours. Egypt’s Black Desert is an uninhabited area of volcano-shaped mountains. Large quantities of small black stones lay scattered across the desert sand. Egypt also has a White desert. The desert has a colours varying from white to cream. Characteristic are it’s massive chalk rock formations. The occasional sandstorms in the area formed these. Australia is home to the red sand desert called the Simpson desert which is also known by the name The Big Red. It has the world’s longest parallel dunes. The high of the dunes vary from 3 meters up to 40 meters.
Wadi Rum desert
Wadi Rum desert is part of the Syrian desert. It is located on the southeast edge of this desert in the southeast of Jordan. In the east, it borders Saudi Arabia with its Arabian desert, and in the South, it borders the Red Sea. Wadi Rum is a mountainous desert. Towering cliffs and beautifully shaped mountains and rock formations mark the valleys and canyons. The mountains are made of sandstone with granite bases. Wind and water shaped the sandstone into its unique forms. And eventually, the formations fall apart. First in rocks and eventually into loss pieces of sand., which fed and feed the dunes. Just like any other desert, our colourful, red and yellow desert is unique in the world. Curious to see our Mars like landscape? Come and visit us in 2016!
See you in Wadi Rum desert,
Team Wadi Rum Nomads