Almost one third of our landmass is made up of deserts. In this fun quiz we will learn the biggest deserts found on our planet and some interesting trivia along the way.
What is a desert?
Generally, a desert is a region where there is very little precipitation (rain, snow, drizzle, hail) - less than 250mm (10 inches) per year; compare that with London which receives 1154mm (46 inches) of rainfall on average each year.
Our assumption of a desert always includes a hot barren landscape, but there are plenty of cold deserts in the world as well. Like the Antarctic, where the ice covered land gives an illusion of heavy snowfall, however, Antarctica sees some of the lowest precipitation in the world. Now, that we know what a desert is, it's time to learn about the largest deserts on our planet.
Which is the largest desert in Africa?
Sahara is the largest desert in Africa.
Sahara, located in North Africa, is the world's largest hot desert. It spans over 10 countries and at 9 million sq kilometres is 31% of the entire African continent. Sahara's geographic location prevents any cloud formation over the region. This means the Sahara is always sunny and has very little possibility of rainfall. In the summer the average temperature can be as high as 47°C (116.6 °F). The average rainfall ranges from 13mm (.5 inch) in the central regions to 106mm (4 inches) in the eastern parts of the desert.
Fun Fact: Although Sahara is known for its extremely harsh weather conditions, it has close to 700 species of plants that are unique to the desert. The southern Sahara is also home to the desert Crocodiles that live in the mountain lagoons, caves and burrows.
Which is the largest desert in North America?
Chihuahuan Desert is the largest desert in North America.
Chihuahuan Desert is located in southern United States and north central mexico. The desert sees less than an average of 10 inches of rainfall a year. Like Sahara, Chihuahuan is an example of a rain-shadowed desert - as the two mountains to the east and the west block rain clouds from bringing precipitation to the region.
Chihuahuan Desert is one of the most biologically diverse deserts in North-America. But years of overgrazing, pollution and urbanisation has ravaged the natural habitat of wild-animals like the Mexican Wolf and the Desert Puma.
Which is the largest desert in South America?
Patagonian Desert is the largest desert in South America.
Patagonian Desert is located in southern Argentina and small parts of Chile spreading across 673,000 square kilometers. It is a cold desert, rain-shadowed by the Andes mountains range. Temperature ranges depend on the altitude and exposure to the warm and cold currents. In summer some areas can see temperatures as high as 30°C whereas other regions in the winter can see the thermometer reading -30°C.
Which is the largest desert in Oceania/Australia?
Found in Australia, Great Victoria Desert is the largest desert in Australia/Oceania. It spans 700 km east to west. It receives less than 10 inches of rainfall every year.
Fun Fact: The British Government tested 9 nuclear bombs in the desert from 1953 and 1957.
Which is the largest desert in Asia?
The Arabian Desert is the largest desert in Asia.
The Arabian Desert covers almost all of Arabian Peninsula and a few countries like Iraq and Syria towards the north. The desert shares plenty in common with the Sahara lying to its west, including clear skies and very high temperatures. Spread over more than 2 million sq kilometers, Arabian Desert has the largest stretch of sand in the world. The Arabian Desert sees less than 4 inches of rainfall a year. Average temperatures in the summer hover between 30 to 40 degree Celsius.
Known for its underground oil reserves, the desert also has plenty of underground fresh water bursting out into the oasis - enabling life in the harsh desert conditions.
Which is the driest desert in the world?
Lying in Chile, South America, covering an area of 49000 sq km, Atacama sees less than 1 inch of rainfall per year. Some regions can go without rainfall for hundreds of years.
Fun Fact: Atacama is also the oldest desert on the planet. The extreme arid conditions are very close to that on the planet Mars, making it a perfect place for NASA to test their Mars probes. Atacama is also a popular movie destination for filmmakers depicting the red planet.
Which is the hottest desert in the world?
Well, until recently El Azizia, in Sahara Libya had the highest temperature of 58.0°C (136.4°F) recorded on 10 July 1913, until some researchers decided to doubt the method of the data collection. The record currently stands with Death Valley in Mojave desert which registered a land surface temperature of 56.7 °C (134 °F).
Here's where it gets tricky. The Lut desert in Iran reached temperatures of around 70.7 °C (159.3 °F), which was captured by NASA satellites. So, who gets the crown? That is largely dependant on the methodology used to collect data. But currently, most agree that Death Valley in Mojave gets the prize for its high surface temperature.
Which is the coldest desert in the world?
With annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) per year and very little vegetation inland, Antarctica is considered a desert. The temperatures in Antarctica have known to reach -89.2 °C (−128.6 °F), making it the coldest desert and the coldest place on the planet.
Fun Fact: The dry valley in Antarctica is also the driest place on earth with almost no humidity, ice or snow, and rainfall for 14 million years.
Which is the largest desert in the world?
With an area of 14,000,000 sq km, the fifth largest continent is also the largest desert on the planet. The other ice cap - Arctic comes second, whereas Sahara comes third.
Fun Fact: Europe is the only continent without a hot desert but climate change and harmful agricultural practices is resulting in desertification of southern Portugal and Spain.
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