What images come to mind when you hear the word desert? Most likely, you’d think of intense heat, brown lifeless looking sand, and no rain. Perhaps even cacti, vultures, mesas, and scorpions, as well as camels and oases, come to mind?
Deserts, on the other hand, come in all shapes and sizes and vary greatly from one region of the world to the next. A desert, by definition, is a region that is extremely dry due to a lack of water. A desert is defined as an area with less than 250 millimeters of annual rainfall.
Deserts are frequently among the hottest places on Earth, but they can also be cold, windswept regions with little to no snowfall, as in the Antarctic and Arctic. Finally, being hot has little to do with it. In fact, the most scientific definition of deserts is that they are distinguished by little to no moisture and temperature extremes.
With that in mind, here is the list of the largest deserts in the world.
- Antarctic Desert
- Arctic Desert
- Sahara Desert
- Australian Desert
- The Arabian Desert
- Gobi Desert
- Kalahari Desert
- Patagonian Desert
- Syrian Desert
- Great Basin
Antarctic Desert Statistics
Statistics of the Antarctic desert.
- It covers an area of 13.8 million square kilometers.
- 90% of the world’s freshwater is found in this region.
- 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice with a thickness of 1.6 km on average. The 2% of the continent that isn’t covered in ice is occupied by the animals that live there, such as penguins, seals, and numerous species of birds.
- Massive windstorms that can gust up to 320 km/h (200 mph) are common in Antarctica and contribute to the continent’s extreme cold.
- The lowest temperature ever recorded was -89.2°C (-129°F) on July 21st, 1983.
- At its deepest point, Antarctica’s ice is 4.5km (2.7 miles) thick; that is about 1/2 the height of Mt Everest!
- Antarctica is a continent without nations and is administered by an international agreement (the Antarctic Treaty).
- Despite being completely covered in ice, Antarctica is home to the Gamburtsev Mountains, one of the world’s largest mountain ranges that stretches for more than 1200 kilometers. The tallest peaks are thought to be around 2,800 meters, or roughly one-third the size of Mount Everest, the mountain with the greatest elevation on Earth.
Arctic Desert Statistics
- It has a surface area of 5,400,000 sq mi (13,985,935 sq km)
- The Arctic includes the Arctic Ocean, as well as sections of Greenland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland, as well as Russia, Canada, and the United States.
- In northern Greenland, temperatures as low as -70°C have been observed.
- The area is extremely cold and is covered in bare rock, snow, and glaciers. In the summer, the temp does increase above freezing for brief periods, which causes some ice to melt.
- Ten percent of the fresh water on Earth is found in the Arctic’s ice. The vast, snow-covered, white reservoir reflects light from the sun, keeping the area chilly. Additionally, it is very crucial for maintaining the stability of our planet’s climate.
- About 4 million people live in this vast landscape.
- Less than 10 inches of precipitation fall in this area each year, which is comparable to the Sahara Desert.
- Due to the cold environment, there are few plants, however 5–10% of the area has moss and lichen growth at low elevations and where there is exposed rock or soil. Along with the Atlantic walrus and the polar bear, the region is home to the largest ivory gull colonies.
Sahara Desert Statistics
- The Sahara Desert, which is also the third-largest desert in the globe, is also the biggest hot desert on earth.
- The desert is similar in size to China or the US at roughly 9,200,000 square kilometers!
- The highest temperature was 58°C, while the average yearly temperature is 30°C.
- Interestingly, the absence of humidity causes a dramatic drop in temperature at night in the Sahara, where it can be as low as -6°C.
- In the Sahara, there are more than 20 lakes, the majority of them are saltwater ones. The only freshwater lake in the desert is Lake Chad.
- The Sahara covers about a third of Africa and extends into 11 different nations. Among them are Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, and Western Sahara.
- The Sahara is also home to over 2.5 million people, the majority of whom are of Berber or Arabic descent. They either have a nomadic lifestyle, moving from one site to another with herds of sheep, goats, or camels, or they dwell in permanent villages close to water supplies.
- While numerous sand dunes in the Sahara reach heights of over 180 meters, Mount Koussi in Chad, an extinct volcano, is the highest point in this desert at 3,415 meters.
- In El Azizia, Libya, on September 13th, 1922, 136 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded as the Sahara’s record high temperature. The desert is more alive with insects, animals and people than you might imagine.
- The Sahara boasts over 20 lakes. With the exception of Lake Chad, the sole freshwater lake in the desert, all of these other lakes are saltwater. The Sahara has more than 90 oasis as well.
About 18% of the Australian continent is made up of deserts. The Great Victoria Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Tanami Desert, and Simpson Desert are the names of the four largest deserts in Australia.
Australia’s ten distinct deserts are spread out across the nation. The Great Victoria Desert, which spans more than 400 miles in Western and South Australia, is the largest and most well-known.
The Great Sandy Desert, which is located in Western Australia and spans an area of 284, 993 sq km, is the second-largest Australian desert. The Tanami Desert, which is situated in Australia’s Western and Northern Territories and covers a total area of 184,500 km sq., is the third-largest desert in the country.
The Simpson Desert, which may be found in Queensland Territory, South Australia, and Northern Australia, is the fourth-largest desert in Australia. The Simpson Desert spans roughly 176,500 square kilometers.
In Western Australia, the Gibson Desert and Little Sandy Desert, respectively, cover 156,500 sq km and 111,500 sq km of land. The Strzelecki, Sturt, Tirari, and Pedirka minor Australian deserts are largely found in the South Australian region.
Despite the extreme conditions, several plants and animals can survive in the harsh environment of Australian deserts. Australian deserts contain a variety of cacti and shrubs that have evolved adaptations like thorns and water storage systems to help them live despite the lack of rain, similar to those seen in other desert regions.
One of the most prevalent animals in Australian deserts is the lizard. Many lizards are excellent at preserving the meager amounts of water that they require to survive because they have hard skin that doesn’t sweat and cunning tongues that can capture water from dew drops.
Small lizards called Australian thorny devils use their thorny exterior as a protection against larger reptiles. Anyone who is knowledgeable with Australian outback information may also be able to recognize the dingos.
The Arabian Desert
Western Asia is home to the enormous Arabian Desert. It extends from Yemen to the Persian Gulf, Oman to Jordan, and Iraq.
- With a total area of 2,330,000 square kilometers, it takes up the majority of the Arabian Peninsula (900,000 sq mi). It is the largest desert in Asia and the fifth largest desert overall.
- The largest sand desert in the world, the “Rub al Khali,” is located in the middle of the Arabian desert, which serves as an excellent way to highlight its enormity. The Rub’ al Khali, sometimes known as the “Empty Quarter,” covers a 250,000 square mile area that includes parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
- The weather is primarily dry. Most places receive about 100 millimetres (3.9 in) of rain annually. The Arabian Desert only has a small number of hyperarid regions, in contrast to the Sahara Desert, which has more than half of them.
- Did you know that despite the brightness of the sun and moon, there is generally poor visibility at ground level due to dust and humidity?
- The world’s richest source of petroleum is the Arabian Desert.
- All throughout the year, temperatures are high. Average high temperatures during the summer in low-lying locations are typically greater than 40 °C (104 °F). Summertime temperatures near sea level in exceptionally low-lying places, particularly in the Persian Gulf, can reach 48 °C (118 °F).
- The vast majority of Saudi Arabia is covered by the desert. It encircles portions of the neighboring countries of western Oman, northern Yemen, western Oman, central Qatar, southern Jordan, southern Iraq, and the majority of the Abu Dhabi emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The majority of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt and the nearby Negev desert in southern Israel are both included in the ecoregion.
In northern China and southern Mongolia, there is a huge, arid area known as the Gobi Desert. Dunes, mountains, and exotic creatures like snow leopards and Bactrian camels are some of its best-known natural features.
The Khongoryn Els sand dunes in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park are rumored to sing when the wind blows. The Yolyn Am canyon’s extensive ice field is another attraction of the park.
- The desert is about 500,000 square miles.
- The Gobi Desert, at over 1,300,000 square kilometers, surpasses the Kalahari, Patagonia, and Sonoran Deserts to rank as the sixth-largest desert in the world. Peru is smaller geographically than the Gobi. Thailand, Spain, and the United Kingdom put together nearly fill the entire desert. Asia’s biggest desert is the Gobi.
- The Himalayan mountain range has created a rain shadow that shields the Gobi from rain-bearing clouds. It is generally crescent-shaped and located between the Pei Mountains in the south and the Altai and Hangayn mountain ranges in the north.
- The two roughly characterized ecoregions that make up the Gobi Desert are the Gobi Steppe Desert and the Gobi Lakes Valley Desert Steppe.
- The Gobi Desert is not warm despite being in southern Mongolia. The Gobi is categorized as a Cold Winter Desert. The dunes and valleys occasionally get frost and snow on them. It shares this classification with other well-known deserts, including Patagonia and the American Great Basin Desert. The Gobi, though, is larger than both of those deserts put together.
- Despite being large, it only spans two nations. The Mongolian desert is fairly accessible, but to explore the entire country you will require a Chinese visa. The Gobi Desert divides China and Mongolia. Three provinces in China and three in Mongolia are included in the Gobi.
- The Gobi is home to a wide variety of creatures despite its severe terrain. Camels are well suited to living here, much like their cousins in the Sahara. Although there are many farmed camels, the wild Bactrian camel is unique. They can handle the high altitude, drought, and cold well.
Only 1,400 wild camels remain, making them a distinct species from farmed ones. One of the few mammals that can truly consume snow for fluids in the winter is the camel.
- The Gobi Desert expands yearly. It usually travels toward China’s south. An additional 3,600 km of desert are added to the country each year. The loss of trees and other human-related activities like herding animals there are the main causes of this. By putting drought-tolerant trees in the area, the Chinese government is attempting to reverse desertification.
The Kalahari Desert is the sixth largest in the world. It is also Africa’s second-largest desert, behind the Sahara.
- The Kalahari Desert spans an area of about 900,000 square kilometers.
- The desert is made up of several distinct landscapes that span South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia rather than being restricted to a single nation.
- The Kalahari Desert has extreme weather and temperatures ranges. In the summer, temperatures can soar to at least 40°C (104°F), while in the winter, they can fall as low as 0°C (32°F).
- Due to its high yearly rainfall, the Kalahari is not a true desert in the traditional sense of the word. The Kalahari Desert receives more rain than most deserts, averaging between 12 and 25 centimeters each year.
- The Kalahari Desert is home to a variety of wildlife, including antelope species such the springbok, oryx, wildebeest, duiker, and steenbok. The meerkat, hyena, bat-eared fox, and cape fox are among the other creatures that live here. All three of Africa’s great cats—the cheetah, the leopard, and the fabled desert lions—can be found in the Kalahari Desert, which is surprising to some people.
- One of the largest diamond mines in the world is located in the Kalahari Desert.
- Other valuable minerals, such nickel, copper, and coal, are also abundant in the Kalahari Desert. There are several mining and extraction projects underway, and there are a variety of management techniques available to guard against damaging effects on the environment.
- Due to its ability to reduce hunger, hoodia is a plant that is utilized in diet supplements and pills all over the world. The San people are claimed to be able to go 24 hours without feeling hungry after consuming this plant, which is only found in Southern Africa and the Kalahari Desert region.