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Desert:The Biome of Extremes : 

Desert:The Biome of Extremes By: Lucas, Melissa, Trevor, Alicia, and David

Slide 2: 

Climatic and geographic factors that cause deserts and determine location Life in deserts and mechanisms for survival Citations for references From our presentation you will learn: What makes a desert a desert Where deserts are found

What is a Desert? : 

What is a Desert? “A desert is a region with mean annual precipitation of less than 10 inches, with potential to evaporate more water than falls as precipitation, and so little vegetation that it cannot support abundant life.” – Professors Jean Bahr and Chuck DeMets University of Wisconsin-Madison

Where are deserts found? : 

Where are deserts found? United States Mexico South America Africa South Central Asia Australia Antarctica NOT EUROPE

What Causes Deserts? : 

What Causes Deserts? Deserts are classified by location and weather patterns. There are several overlapping classification systems. To keep it simple here is one system with four classes of desert:

Subtropical Deserts : 

Subtropical Deserts Two 5o strips at 30o north and 30o south latitudes (see map) Air currents heat up as they move toward the equator, causing “trade winds” Dry winds drive away clouds, more sunlight heats the land

Subtropical Deserts, cont. : 

Subtropical Deserts, cont. Air masses hold a great amount of water vapor, “wicking” moisture away from land underneath Most major hot deserts are subtropical deserts Example: Sahara Desert world’s largest hot desert - 3.5 million square miles temperatures can reach 57° C (135° F)

Cool Coastal Deserts : 

Cool Coastal Deserts Found along the coastline at same latitudes as subtropical deserts Average temperature much cooler due to cold offshore ocean currents Example: Atacama Desert of Chile All moisture in form of fog No rain for 40 or 400 years (depending on source)

Polar Deserts : 

Polar Deserts Cover nearly 20 million square miles Mostly bedrock or gravel Caused by location on planet Low-angle sunlight causes cold conditions Cold air carries little moisture Example: McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica

Mid-Latitude Deserts : 

Mid-Latitude Deserts Found in continental interiors, between 30°-50° N. and S. Caused by either land barriers or distance from oceans (continentality) Very hot summers, very cold winters Example: Gobi Desert of Mongolia

Other Deserts : 

Other Deserts Paleodeserts: ancient deserts in areas no longer dry Example: Nebraska Sand Hills Extraterrestrial deserts: deserts on other planets Example: Martian “Sand Seas”

Challenges of Desert Life : 

Challenges of Desert Life Temperature extremes Lack of water Scarce food

Life in the ~Hot~ Desert : 

Life in the ~Hot~ Desert Physical Adaptation Behavior Animals Plants

Animal Adaptation : 

Animal Adaptation Behavior Estivation – summer hibernation Nocturnal feeding Daytime rest – dens, holes, shade Energy conservation Physical Careful kidneys Salt glands (no sweat glands) Skin structures Light coloration Life cycle regulation

Plant Adaptation : 

Plant Adaptation Cactus (Americas) and euphorbia (Africa) Shallow root systems - stability and moisture No leaves, green trunk can photosynthesize Can store a lot of water (saguaro 2,000 lbs!) Other Plants Far-reaching root systems, horizontal or vertical Compact growth Leaves small, absent, or ephemeral (ex: ocotillo) Thick cuticle (waxy layer) or “fur” on leaves

Interesting Information : 

Interesting Information 1/3 of Earth’s land surface covered by deserts Largest desert plant: saguaro of N. America 40 different species of rodents found in the Sahara Desert 1200 different species of insects found in Sahara Desert Camels drink water up to 25% of their body weight Hottest recorded temperature: 134ºF. Death Valley, USA

Works Cited : 

Works Cited Utah Education Network: Temperature converter: State of Utah Resources Web: Types of deserts USGS: Earth Science Explorer (in cooperation with NASA)

Works Cited, cont. : 

Works Cited, cont. U.Minnesota Geography 106 lecture notes The Learning Network: Köppen Climate Classification The World's Biomes, UC Berkeley:

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