5 general characteristics of tropical desert climate

5 general characteristics of tropical desert climate

The tropical desert is an environment of extremes: it is the driest and hottest place on earth. Rainfall is sporadic and in some years no measurable precipitation falls at all. The terribly dry conditions of the deserts is due to the year-round influence of subtropical high pressure and continentality.


Location: This climate is experienced in all the major tropical deserts of the world. These have been listed according to continents as follows:

  • Africa: Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. 
  • Asia: the Middle East and Thar desert of India.  
  • North America: Colorado, Mohave and Mexican deserts.  
  • South America: Atacama desert.  
  • Australia: the Great Australian desert.


  • High mean monthly temperature, 29 degree Centigrade in the hot season. 
  • During the cool season, temperatures can be as low as 10 degree Centigrade.  
  • Daytime temperatures can rise to 47 degree Centigrade or more.  
  • Night temperature can drop to as low as 5degree Centigrade.  
  • Annual temperature range is very high. It can reach 26 degree Centigrade. 

Desert conditions hardly support meaningful human activities because of the very high temperatures experienced during the day. This causes scarcity of water and food. However, animal, the camel, has adapted to desert conditions and can survive for many days without water. It is used for transport in the desert. In parts of southern Africa, a group of people called the Khoisan live in the desert areas. Here, they hunt desert animals and gather wild fruits for food. However, this group of people is not as active as they were long ago. This is because of constant migration to other areas and the growth of towns and cities.

In deserts, there are depressions of varying sizes where underground water reaches the surface. These depressions are called oases (singular, oasis). These provide people living in deserts or close to desert areas with water for irrigation. In these areas, plants grown include date palms, sugar cane, maize, wheat, barley and cotton. 

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