16 Interesting Facts About Deserts

Vast landscapes that are arid make up about one third of the Earth’s surface. Be it sandy, icy, or rocky, there are several different kinds of deserts that exist. Sparsely populated, deserts receive very less to no precipitation of any form. But, there are several features that are worth noting! Deserts might sound a lil boring but there are many amazing facts that would make you go ooh and aah about deserts. Let’s discover some interesting facts about deserts.

desert

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1. Ideal war fields

rench AMX 10RC in the desertDeserts lack civilian population. This makes it convenient for warring sides to fight without worrying about anything else. The First World War and the Second World War are reported to have been fought in deserts. All the armies had to do was bring in supplies. Whenever a side advanced it had to bring supplies farther. The retreating side had shorter distance to cover which helped turn the tables. So, the armies went back and forth and back!
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

2. Powering the globe

Nellis AFB Solar panels
Nellis AFB Solar panels

Less cloud cover; less vegetation obstruction; No urban obstruction; all these make deserts ideal for solar farms. Miles and miles of giant solar farms make it possible for entire nations. The Mojave Desert has several successfully implemented farms. The Sahara Desert has the potential to generate power for several nations too.
Source: firstsolar.com, image: wikimedia.org

3. Farming in the desert

Imperial valley fields
Imperial valley fields

California has made an attempt at desert farming in the Imperial Valley. The Colorado River irrigates the farms through the All American Canal through a network of pipes and canals. Though there have been side effects of salinity build ups and decrease of flow of water, this project stands an example. It sparks the aspiration to convert deserts to farms and address the growing demand for agricultural produce.
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

4. Dust storm erosion

dust storm
Dust storm

The loose and dry soil particles are easily carried by wind gusts, and are deposited in far flung areas. This leads to further degradation of the land. Most of Central and South America are said to be getting minerals from the Sahara desert. Reducing visibility for road and air transport, damage to property and health are the flip sides thereof.
Source: wikipedia

5. Martian Deserts

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Rocky Mars Surface
Rocky Mars Surface

Mars is one planet other than the Earth on which deserts have been found. There are larger dunes in the middle and smaller ones near the poles. Dust storms are common here too, though more powerful than the ones on Earth.
Source: mdrs.marssociety.org, image: wikimedia.org

6. Shadowed from rain

Agasthiyamalai range and Tirunelveli rainshadow
Agasthiyamalai range and Tirunelveli rainshadow

Rain shadow deserts occur on one side of a mountain range. The moisture rich winds ascend heights to cross the winds and cause precipitation on one side. When they do cross to the other side they become dry winds. The windward side gets the rain while the leeward side is unlucky.
Source: education.nationalgeographic.com, image: wikimedia.org

7. Hunting at night

lizardThe soaring temperatures make it impossible for animals to venture out during the day. Lizards, snakes and other animals come out when the sun sets and the heat dissipates from the ground.
Adaptions like moving sideways, low metabolic rates help survival better.
Source: wikipedia

8. Its Antarctica! Not Sahara

Antarctica
Antarctica

Well, school teaches us that Sahara is the largest desert. It is not. Antarctica is. The Sahara covers 3.6 million square miles and shares borders with eleven countries. Imagine the size of Antarctica then!
Source: geology.com, image: wikimedia.org

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9. Sharp rise and drop

caravanThe air in desert contains no moisture. The moisture in the air helps regulate the temperature. An absence of moisture causes the day temperature to peak at 100F and drop to 25F in the nights. The heat dissipates quickly as there is an absence of sources to retain the heat.
Source: wikipedia

10. Wind patterns and latitudes

sand-dunesOne can notice that the wind patterns and the latitudes play a major role. Where there are mountain ranges one side gets rains while the other side does not. The regions north and south of the equator are also regions of deserts.
Source: wikipedia

11. Storing fat

camelScanty food and moisture makes it necessary for animals to store them. Their slow metabolism helps conserve energy. If the animal stores fat all over its body then it would tend to die from overheating. Hence they store it in a particular location like the camel.
Source: wikipedia

12. Running and flying

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Cream coloured Courser
Cream coloured Courser

Some birds can fly up to higher heights to cool themselves. Some of them can run to long distances to be able to access waterholes and search for food.
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

13. Flash floods

flash flood in desert It does not rain in the desert much. It had not rained for 401 years in the Atacama desert. Though, when it does rain it is torrential. A lot of water seeps underground. A major portion form temporary streams causing flash floods and are called Wadis.
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

14. Is it there or not?

mirage in desert
Mirage in desert

Search for water in the desert is not new. A trick of the light makes it appear as though water is present while in reality it is not. This is called mirage, otherwise called Fata Morgana.
Source: wikipedia, image: flickr

15. None in Europe

Well, Europe is lucky not to have deserts but there are areas that are semi arid. If not cared for then they would soon become deserts.
Source: wikipedia

16. Deserted

AndeanTo desert means to abandon. Sparsely populated areas were called deserted. Arid areas made it unsuitable for living making them deserts.
Source: wikipedia

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