When someone says the word ‘desert’, the very first thing that comes to our mind is the endless view of sand, enormous dry areas, and heat waves. So where is the place for the term ‘cold or coldest’ when we are talking about hot deserts? The big question here is, can deserts really be cold? Yes, there are a few deserts that can get extremely cold after the sun goes down. God has alternative plans for everything, even the hottest deserts like the Sahara can also reach record-low temperatures. Read on to know how this natural phenomenon happens.
What Is A Cold Desert?
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Large areas without rainfall, uninhabited and uncultivated are found both in hot and cold climates. Since deserts are so dry, the temperatures can change from extremely hot to extremely cold more easily than in a place with more humidity. When a desert has hot summers but extremely cold winters it is considered a cold desert. These cold famous deserts around the world are generally found in high, flat areas, called plateaus, or mountainous areas in temperate regions. Cold deserts sound and look very fascinating but these places are difficult, sometimes impossible to stay for a long time. Let’s take a look at the coldest deserts on earth and how they stand out from the other habitats on earth.
Here Are The 7 Coldest Deserts On Planet Earth
Location: Northern China and Southern Mongolia
Lowest Temperature: -40 °F/-40 °C
Size: 500,000 square miles
The Gobi, the sixth-largest desert in the world extends across Mongolia and parts of China. One of the significant factors for its cold temperature is due to its location at a high altitude. Winds from the Siberian Steppes and occasional snowfall on its dunes greatly contribute to the extreme cold. Despite extreme temperatures, this region is home to rare animals like the Bactrian camels and snow leopards.
Great Basin Desert
Location: United States
Lowest Temperature: -20 °F/-29 °C
Size: 190,000 square miles
The Great Basin desert, the largest desert in the US lies between the rain shadows of the Sierra Nevada snowy mountain range. Due to the Sierra Nevada Mountain range casting a rain shadow over it the climate here are very hot and dry in the summers and extremely cold and snowy during winters. Many small, isolated populations of genetically unique plant and animal species live in the floristic Great Basin.
Location: Arctic Ocean
Lowest Temperature: -89.9 °F/-67.7 °C
Size: 62,300 square miles
The Arctic desert, located in the extreme North of our planet Earth is one of the coldest deserts in the world. It doesn’t have a well-defined extension as it includes several areas of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Russia. Due to its cold and extreme conditions, most plant life cannot survive. However, Ivory gulls and Polar bears can be found in this region.
Location: Between the Arctic and North Atlantic Ocean
Lowest Temperature: -93°F/-69°C
Size: 836,300 square miles
Greenland desert is known for being the world’s largest non-continental and coldest desert. It is considered a polar desert as the precipitation level is shallow. Almost 80% of this island is covered in a vast body of ice called the Greenland ice sheet. Greenland is also famous for having the largest national park in the world which is an Arctic paradise.
Location: Northwest China
Lowest Temperature: -4 °F/-20 °C
Size: 130,300 square miles
The Taklamakan desert, located behind the Himalayan Mountains is a desert in Southwestern Xinjiang in China. Due to its location, this desert is extremely dry and has a cold desert climate. It has been observed that in winter, there are depositions of layers of frozen snow like a blanket. As per its name “Takla Makan” which means “place from which there is no return”, this dessert is nearly impossible to cross due to lack of water.
Lowest Temperature: -29.02 °F/-33.9 °C
Size: 260,000 square miles
The Patagonian Desert, also known as the Patagonian Steppe is the largest desert in Argentina and the 8th largest in the world. The climate here is extremely dry and snowfalls are very scarce. In spite of the dry conditions, few plants and animals can still live in some regions. They can be found mainly on the outskirts of the desert, where the environment is more hospitable. The most commonly found animals in the Patagonian Desert are burrowing owls, Patagonian gray foxes, desert iguanas, and several species of eagle and hawk.
Antarctic Polar Desert
Lowest Temperature: -128.2°F / -89°C 5.2
Size: 5.2 million square miles
Antarctica is the driest, windiest and coldest continent in the world. This place does not receive snow or rain, but when it does, the snow does not melt and continues to build up over the years. This build-up turns into ice sheets that cover 98% of Antarctica. Moss and algae are the only plants able to survive extreme temperatures. A few animals like fur seals, Gentoo penguins, Adelie penguins, and Antarctic orcas can live in these harsh conditions.
These famous cold deserts from around the world are distinctly different and fascinating in their own ways. It may be tough to visit them during the summers and winters, but some of them can be added to your bucket list to visit during spring and fall.