The American Desert

This is mostly true, however, some deserts are a highly productive environment suppling a vast variety of plant and animal life. One of these deserts is the North American Desert.

All deserts are different. Some have high mountains, some are just sandy flatlands and some have great soil where plant life thrive. However, there is one aspect of the desert that rings true for all deserts, they all get very little rainfall, less than 10 inches in most areas.

In the continent of North America, there is a very large desert called the North American Desert. It covers a vast area of the southwestern part of the United States and some of Mexico. This desert is divided into four major parts. The Great Basin Desert, the Mojave Desert, the Sonoran Desert and the Chihuahuan Desert. The Chihuahuan and the Sonoran Deserts covers part of the United States and into Mexico and the largest of all four, the Great Basin lies between the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and the Rocky Mountains.

In the desert, temperatures get very hot during the day and very cool at night. Some areas may reach temperatures as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit at the peak of the day. Wind is another factor of desert life. Strong winds often blow in the desert. Sand dunes take shape as a result of these winds. Believe it or not, water plays a major role in the desert climate. Flash flooding occurs often because the sun bakes the ground over time and when a storm comes along, it may dump a major amount of water causing serious run-off. These sudden floods change the shape of a desert on a whim.



In the deserts of North America, plant and animal life is abundant. Although it may seem impossible to live under such conditions, plants and animals have evolved and adapted to this life over millions of years.

A well known North American Desert plant is the cactus. Cacti store water in their stem to live on when the earth is dry. It has its own built in protection system. The sharp spines of the cactus keep animals from eating the plant.

Another well known plant is the Mesquite Bush. This bush has a very long root system. This system enables the plant to supply itself with underground water. These bushes have an especially beautiful feature. The bush grows pods that look like green beans. Once the pod opens, the seeds fall to the ground and the wind covers the seeds with sand and soil. Once the rains come, the seeds eventually grow and blossom into beautiful flowers making the desert floor look like a carpet of flowers.

Animals that inhabit the North American Desert include some snakes, lizards, rabbits, mice, coyotes and some deer. The smaller of these animals lives underground during the day to stay cool and avoid the scorching heat and come out at night to eat plants, insects and other animals. Small animals get their water supply from the food they eat. The larger animals must get water from springs or water holes to survive.

The North American Desert is also no stranger to people. Many people live in and around the desert and enjoy it. The warm, dry air and sunshine is highly recommended if you like that type of climate.

Many people work in the desert as well. Valuable minerals can be found in the North American Desert area. Minerals and fuels such as copper, oil, and uranium are high on the list. A neat piece of trivia is that the table salt you use just may have come from the Great Basin Desert in the Great Salt Lake. Fertilizer is another material that is found in the desert.

Desert lands are valuable for many. People and animals alike rely on the desert for everyday survival.

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