There are places where rain hardly ever falls and few plants can survive, where the sun scorches the earth and strong winds whip sand and dust from the ground. These places are called deserts. But not all deserts are areas of shifting sands and intense heat. In fact, rock and gravel cover the greater part of most deserts. Some deserts, such as the Gobi Desert in Asia, are actually cold for most of the year. Other deserts are blisteringly hot during the day, but temperatures drop dramatically during the night.
Death Valley, California, is the hottest, driest area o f the United States.
The scientific definition of a desert is a place that has very little vegetation and receives less than 25cm ( 10 inches) of rain each year. This means that the landmass at the South Pole could be called a desert because it receives only a few centimetres of rain each year. The water does not fall as rain, however, but snow!
Some of the highest sand dunes in the world can be found in the Namib Desert in southern
Africa. Sand dunes are not fixed features of the desert. They are mobile mounds of sand which
are shaped by the wind. A boulder-strewn part of the Namib Desert shows signs of life after a good year’s rainfall.Death Valley, California, is the hottest, driest area o f the United States.