Why is a desert dry?

Hot and Barren Land

Deserts cover nearly a fifth of the earth’s surface.  We would probably describe a desert as a hot, barren land where it hardly ever rains—a land so dry that few plants can grow on it, and where other forms of life also find it difficult to exits.  The desert we have just described occupies nearly a fifth of the earth’s land surface.  Large deserts can be found in all of the continents except Europe.

The driest and hottest deserts are found in the trade wind zones north and south of the Equator.  Deserts in these areas, such as the Sahara Desert of North Africa, are dry even though they may be near the ocean waters.  Here the winds blow across the desert toward the Equator and become very hot and dry, and release little of their moisture as rain.

Some deserts are dry because they are so far from the sea that the winds blowing in from the ocean lose their moisture long before they reach these deserts.  And in many cases, desert regions are cut off from the moisture laden sea air by tall mountains that catch the rainfall on their seaward side. – Dick Rogers


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