Some people might think that all deserts are hot, but that’s not true. There are also cold deserts, which can be just as harsh as their hotter counterparts. Cold deserts are landscapes that experience extremely hot temperatures during summer and are extremely cold during winter. Those regions are geographically located in temperate zones and so have extreme climatic conditions. In this article, we will discuss what is a cold desert in detail and also learn about the cold desert example, the world’s largest cold desert, and how people survive in cold desert. Keep reading to find out what is a cold desert and much more about the topic!
Table of Contents
1. What is a Cold Desert?
A cold desert is a region that experiences very low average temperatures and scant rainfall. The Atacama Desert in Chile is an example of a cold desert. Some cold deserts, like the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, experience extreme winter weather conditions with temperatures that can plummet below -40 degrees Celsius. (See What States have the Worst Weather?)
2. Where are the Cold Deserts?
The cold deserts are located in the far north and south of our planet. Cold deserts can be found in the Arctic, Antarctica, and on high-altitude plateaus around the world.
These regions are characterized by very low humidity, little precipitation, and extreme temperatures. Many of the world’s coldest deserts witness average annual temperatures below freezing. Winters are typically long and bitterly cold, while summers are short and mild. (See How many Degrees is considered Cold?)
3. What is a Cold Desert made of?
A cold desert comprises temperate regions at higher latitudes, where the average annual temperature is below 10 degrees Celsius. These regions are characterized by high winds, little precipitation, and barren landscapes. (See What is the Elevation Effect on Climate?)
4. What is a Cold Desert Example?Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash
The Tundra is one of the cold desert example from the subarctic region that experiences long, cold winters and short, cool summers. The ice cap is a vast area of permanently frozen ground that covers much of Greenland and Antarctica. Cold deserts can also be found in South America’s Andes Mountains and the Himalayas of Asia. (See What are the Names of Coldest Places on Earth?)
5. Which is the World’s Largest Cold Desert?
The Antarctic Desert is the world’s largest cold desert made up of a variety of materials, including sand, gravel, and rocks. It is located on the continent of Antarctica and has a total area of 14,000,000 square kilometers. (Also read What is a Cold Front?)
6. Do People live in Cold Deserts?
While deserts are primarily known for their extreme heat, there are also cold deserts located at high altitudes and near the polar regions. These areas experience low levels of precipitation and have sparse vegetation, similar to hot deserts.
However, they experience freezing temperatures and lack sources of freshwater. Despite these harsh conditions, some human populations do call cold deserts their home. The Inuit, for example, live in the Arctic tundra and have adapted to survive in this environment through means such as building igloos for shelter and hunting for food.
However, overall, most people avoid living in these areas due to their harsh climates and limited resources. Therefore, while some individuals do reside in cold deserts, they tend to be sparsely populated compared to hot desert regions. (See Why can’t we go to Antarctica?)
7. How do People Survive in Cold Desert?Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash
People survive in cold deserts using different methods based on the climate and geography of the area. In cold deserts, people often live in yurts or other temporary shelters that can be easily moved. They may use animal-based insulation, such as sheepskins, to keep warm at night. They may use ice blocks in very cold climates to keep their food and water supplies from freezing.
In hot deserts, people often build mud brick houses with flat roofs to help keep the interior cool. They also plant gardens with drought-resistant plants to have a source of fresh food. The Bedouin people of the Sahara Desert use both methods to survive in one of the harshest deserts. (Also read What happens to the body in cold weather?)
8. Do Cold Deserts have Sand?
Several cold deserts worldwide do feature sandy soil, including the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in Asia, the Patagonian Desert in South America, and the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts in North America. The sand helps to trap heat during the day and release it at night, which helps to keep the desert environment warm. Additionally, the sand can help to stabilize dunes and prevent them from shifting. (See What does 3 Inches of Snow Look Like?)
9. What Temperature is Too Cold for Humans?
The human body operates best within a certain temperature range. When exposed to extreme heat or cold, the body can begin to suffer from various health complications.
- At 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 Celsius), the brain can lose its ability to form new memories, known as amnesia.
- Going even lower, at 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 Celsius), a person may become unconscious due to their body being unable to regulate its internal temperature.
- Below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius), the body enters into a state of severe hypothermia, and the risk of death increases.
Protecting ourselves from these dangerously low temperatures is important by wearing proper clothing and seeking warmth when necessary. While each individual’s tolerance for cold may vary, it is safe to say that temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit are too cold for the human body to withstand. Check out the How is the Lifestyle of Humans in Polar Zone?
10. What is the 2 Hottest Desert in the World?Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash
The Sahara Desert is the hottest desert in the world, with temperatures reaching up to 136 degrees Fahrenheit. The Lut Desert is the second-hottest desert in the world, with temperatures that can reach up to 137 degrees Fahrenheit. To know more about it, check out the article on the hottest desert in the world.
Hope you got to know what is a cold desert and the world’s largest cold desert in detail! Do visit our website for many more climate and weather-related articles.