The Desert reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Desert

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In physical geography, a desert is a landscape form or region that receives little precipitation. As a consequence, deserts have a reputation for supporting very little life. Compared to wetter regions this may be true, although upon closer examination, deserts often harbor a wealth of life that usually remains hidden (especially during the daylight) to preserve moisture.

Desert landscapes have certain common features. Desert soil is often composed mostly of sand and sand dunes may be present. Exposures of rocky terrain are typical, and reflect minimal soil development and sparseness of vegetation. Bottom lands may be salt-covered flats.

There are different forms of deserts. Cold deserts can be covered in snow; such locations don't receive much precipitation, and what does fall remains frozen as snow pack; these are more commonly referred to as tundra if a short season of above-freezing temperatures is experienced, or as an ice cap if the temperature remains below freezing year-round, rendering the land completely lifeless. Most non-polar deserts are hot because they have little water. Water tends to have a cooling, or at least a moderating, effect in environments where it is plentiful. In some parts of the world deserts are created by a rain shadow effect in which air masses lose much of their moisture as they move over a mountain range; other areas are arid by virtue of being very far from the nearest available sources of moisture (this is true in some middle-latitude landmass interior locations, particularly in Asia).

Table of contents
1 See also
2 Listing of deserts of the world
3 See also

See also


Listing of deserts of the world

Americas

See also: List of North American deserts

Africa

Asia-Pacific

See also