We explain what a desert is, the climates it presents and how it is classified. Also, what are its characteristics, flora, fauna and more.
The desert is a very frequent bioclimatic landscape on the earth's surface, characterized by its very low rainfall and scarce presence of fauna and flora, given the low levels of humidity. Although the traditional image of the sandy desert alludes to warm and equatorial climates, the truth is that those located on the arctic plateau or in the tundra also count as deserts .
Deserts are the product of different erosion processes , such as wind (given its high presence of winds that even form sand storms ) or the impact of solar radiation. The degree of intensity of these factors will depend on many characteristics of the desert, such as the type of sand formed or the nature of the soil.
Considered in their entirety, deserts occupy almost a third of the earth's surface , about 50 million square kilometers. 53% of them correspond to hot deserts and the rest to frozen deserts.
They are distributed throughout the continents , the best known being the Saharan regions in North Africa , northern Mexico , the Asian tundra in Russia, Greenland and Alaska, as well as southern Chile and Argentina , or the platform from the arctic
Temperatures in these areas are usually extreme, with huge thermal variations between day and night. Hot deserts can see highs above 40 degrees Celsius during the day and drop below zero at night. In the case of polar deserts, the temperature remains well below zero (-40 °C), depending on the stationary cycle.
Deserts usually have two different types of soil , depending on the impact of erosion on the materials that compose it. Thus, it is possible to speak of sandy soils, obviously composed of the rocky microparticles that make up the sand, and that the wind pushes to form dunes; and also of rocky or stony soils, composed of larger pebbles or accumulations of stone of various kinds.
It should also be noted the case of polar deserts, whose surface is entirely covered by ice , so it cannot really be treated as a type of soil, since it can even be found kilometers below the frozen layer.
The Argentine Ischigualasto (Valley of the Moon), the Kalahari desert and the Sand Hills of Nebraska are considered paleodeserts, and intense archaeological recovery work and collection of ancient samples are carried out in them.
The vegetation of the deserts is, in principle, scarce, given the very low humidity margins . What exists has adapted to resist such adverse conditions, and it is generally xerophilous type vegetation, with a predominance of thorny and resistant plants, such as cacti, as well as weeds and, in the best of cases, low-lying shrubs. height.
In the oases, on the other hand, the presence of water allows a greater proliferation of vegetation, with the presence of palm trees and larger bushes.
However, there are also numerous desert rodents , sheltered in burrows far from the sun , as well as birds of prey and scavengers, or camelids with a high resistance to drought.
Revealed by erosion and protected from moisture , many mineral resources are found in deserts, such as oil fields (especially in the Middle East) or heavy metals .
The desert sand, likewise, is usually rich in calcareous elements and salts , which is why salt flats are often found in desert areas, such as in the Uyuni region in Bolivia . This type of desert drains even more moisture from the environment, thus feeding back its aridity.
There are desert extensions outside our planet, although the only ones that seem to have wind displacements are those of Mars , where there is a circumpolar sand desert of almost 5,000,000 square kilometers. These deserts present high margins of wind abrasion , since the wind drags a large number of suspended particles at very high speeds.
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