What Are Temperate Deserts and Tropical Deserts?

A temperate desert is a region with less than 40 inches of rain per year, arid, hot summers, cold winters with snowfall and temperatures that average below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Tropical deserts are also arid, but they receive slightly more rainfall and have warmer temperatures.

Temperate deserts are found primarily in central and midwest North America, south central Asia, parts of the Middle East and along Chile. Tropical deserts are located largely in central and northern Africa, central Australia and parts of North and South America.

One example of a tropical desert is the Red Sea Nubo-Sindian tropical desert, a 251,000-square mile area on the Arabian Peninsula. Although this area receives very little rainfall, it is home to the sand cat, Ruppell’s fox, sand gazelle and Arabian white oryx. Wild date palms, almonds and tulips also thrive in this region.

The Great Basin Desert is an example of a temperate desert. It encompasses the Great Salt Lake area and southern Utah, most of Nevada and portions of Oregon, Wyoming and Colorado. The high elevation and the mountains protect and cool the desert. Sagebrush and wildflowers make up the majority of the flora. One of the biggest problems in this area is overgrazing.