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Difference between Hot Desert and Cold Desert

The Deserts are found on every continent and they cover more than 20% of the Earth's Land. On the basis of temperature, we can classify deserts into two types: Hot Desert and Cold Desert. Although both places are dry and have unfavourable climatic conditions, they are different from each other in terms of their climate and, flora and fauna. Let us see how they differ from each other!

Hot Desert:

Hot deserts are hot arid areas with little rainfall, extreme temperature and sparse vegetation. Generally, the deserts that are found in the tropical and sub-tropical regions (western coasts of continents) between the 15 degrees and 30 degrees north and south of the equator are hot deserts.

The annual rainfall in a hot desert is less than 250 mm that makes them very dry. Most of the hot deserts tend to lose water continuously as they are located on the path of trade winds. Their aridity is mainly due to the off-shore trade winds, so they are also known as Trade Wind Deserts. They are also devoid of cover of clouds due to the strong winds.

The maximum temperature in a hot desert generally remains over 40 degree centigrade. There is no cold season in the hot deserts. The highest temperature recorded so far is 57.77 degree centigrade at A1 Azizia Libya. The vegetation of hot deserts is mostly xerophytic or drought-resistant. It includes the cacti, thorny bushes, scattered dwarf acacia and long-rooted wiry grasses.

Some Popular Hot Desert:

  • Sahara Desert
  • Great Australian Desert
  • Arabian Desert
  • Iranian Desert
  • Thar Desert
  • Kalahari Desert
  • Namib Desert

Cold Desert:

The cold deserts are mostly found in temperate regions at higher latitudes, e.g. Arctic, the Antarctic and Greenland including the areas above the tree lines of mountain ranges. They have mildly hot summers and extremely cold winters. They generally experience low temperature and long winters. The average temperature ranges from - 2 to 4 degree Celsius in winter and 21 to 26 degree Celsius in summer.

The precipitation is higher in cold deserts and snowfall is common in winter. Vegetation is scattered with needle like leaves to reduce the water loss. The animals commonly found in cold deserts include foxes, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, pocket mice, badger etc.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between a hot desert and a cold desert are as follows:

Hot Desert Cold Desert
It refers to a desert with extremely hot climate. It refers to a desert with extremely cold climate.
Hot deserts are found in the tropical and sub-tropical regions (western coasts of continents). Cold deserts are mostly found in temperate regions at higher latitudes.
It has a sandy soil. It has sand, ice or snow covered land.
It is red or orange in colour. It generally appears gray.
Precipitation levels are generally lower than cold deserts. They tend to have higher precipitation levels than hot deserts.
Evaporation is higher than precipitation in hot deserts. Precipitation is higher than evaporation in cold deserts.
Commonly found animals include fennec foxes, dung beetles, bactrian camels, sidewinder snakes, Mexican coyotes etc. Commonly found animals include foxes, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, pocket mice, badger etc.
Vegetation is very rare and mostly includes ground-hugging shrubs and short woody trees. Vegetation is scattered with needle like leaves.
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