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List of Deserts in Polar Regions

Polar Regions Deserts List

  • Antarctica Desert – the largest desert in the world
  • Arctic Desert – the second largest desert in the world
  • North American Arctic – a large tundra in North America
  • Russian Arctic – a large tundra in Russia

Deserts in Polar Regions

Polar Regions do not have deserts in typical sense but because of low precipitation these areas have characteristics of a desert. Here we discuss about the deserts in polar region and their characteristics with respect to weather, geography, flora and fauna, human like etc.

Antarctica Desert

Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. It is also the coldest, driest and windiest of all the deserts with 98% of the surface covered in ice. The word Antarctica means “opposite to Artic” or “opposite to north” and has its origin to Greek word ‘antarktike’. Located at South Pole and surrounded by Southern Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean, Antarctica is the fifth largest continent. The temperature during winter reaches as low as -90 degree centigrade in the interiors and maximum temperature during summer ranges between 5 degrees to 15 degrees centigrade near the coastal lines. The annual precipitation in Antarctica is only 200 mm at the coastal lines and far less at the inlands. Antarctica does not have permanent human presence but many countries have scientists and research centers in Antarctica. There is no vegetation cover in Antarctica but algae and fungi growth can be noticed.  Animal life is also limited but penguins, blue whales and fur seals can be found here. Surprisingly, the Snow Petrel is the only bird that breeds exclusively in Antarctica.

Artic Desert

The artic desert is located at North Pole covering Artic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, Norway, United States, Ice Land, Finland and Sweden. The word Artic means “Near the northern” and has Greek descent. The Artic desert is characterized by low precipitation with annual precipitation being less than 50 cm. The winter temperature ranges between -50 to -40 degrees centigrade and summer temperature remains less than 10 degrees centigrade. Artic desert is dominated by Tundra vegetation with dwarf shrub growth, graminoids, herbs and lichens. The animal lie includes animals like polar bear, seals, arctic fox, wolf, lemming and hare to name a few. The artic desert is inhabited by indigenous tribes called Eskimos. Similar kind of Desert is found in Northern part of North America Continent called North American Artic Desert covering portions of Greenland, Alaska and Canada. The extension of artic desert in Russia is called Russian Tundra Desert with almost similar characteristics. However, both North American Artic and Russian Tundra are rich in natural resources and human population is more as compared to Artic desert but yet sparse. Most of the human population is concentrated at the coastal areas or mineral rich areas because of recent development of mineral extraction activities.


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