List of North American deserts

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For the Level I desert ecoregion[1] of North America, see North American Desert.
Black Rock Desert, northwest Nevada, a dry lake in the Great Basin Desert
Aerial photo of the Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
A geological syncline in the Mojave Desert near Barstow, California
Unusual gypsum dunes at White Sands National Monument in the Chihuahuan Desert
Saguaro (detail), icon of the Sonoran Desert. Photo by Ansel Adams, c.1941
Feral horses run across a Sagebrush steppe, Tule Valley, Utah
View of Indian Wells Valley, part of the Mojave (high) desert near Ridgecrest, California
Guadalupe Mountains in Texas 2006

This list of North American deserts identifies areas of the continent which receive less than 10 in (250 mm) annual precipitation. The "North American Desert" is also the term for a large U.S. Level 1 ecoregion (EPA)[2] of the North American Cordillera, in the Deserts and xeric shrublands biome (WWF). The continent's deserts are largely between the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Madre Oriental on the east, and the rain shadow creating Sierra Nevada, Transverse, and Peninsular Ranges on the west. The North American xeric region of over 95,751 sq mi (247,990 km2) includes: 3 major deserts; numerous smaller deserts; and large non-desert arid regions; in the western United States and in northeast, central, and northwest Mexico.

Overview[edit]

There are three major hot and dry deserts in North America, all located in the Western United States and Northern Mexico.[3] These are:

  • The Chihuahuan Desert – the largest desert in North America, located in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico - (140,000 square miles (360,000 km2))
  • The Sonoran Desert – a desert located in the Southwestern United States and Northwest Mexico. It is the second largest desert in North America. - (120,000 square miles (310,000 km2))
  • The Mojave Desert – the hottest desert in North America, located primarily in southeastern California - (22,000 square miles (57,000 km2))

Additionally, a large cold desert, the Great Basin Desert, encompasses much of the northern Basin and Range Province, north of the Mojave Desert.

Other smaller cold deserts lie within the Columbia Plateau/Columbia Basin, the Snake River Plain, and the Colorado Plateau regions.

Canada has a few small "deserts" such as the Nk'mip Desert, which is actually shrub steppe. Another "desert" near Carcross, Yukon is commonly called a desert, but it is not a true desert, rather an area of northern sand dunes.[4]

Full listing[edit]

(Listed from north to south)

Western arid regions of North America[edit]

The separately defined western arid regions of North America are continental regions of aridity based on available water in addition to rain shadow diminished rainfall [5] and which have many non-desert shrub-steppe (EPA) and xeric shrublands (WWF) in addition to desert ecosystems and ecoregions. This large arid region of 190,000 sq mi (490,000 km2) includes: deserts, such as the Great Basin Desert and Sonoran Desert; and the non-desert arid region areas (with greater than 10 inches annual precipitation) in the Great Basin arid region, Colorado Plateau, Mexican Plateau, and others. This arid region extends from the top of the North American Desert in Washington and Idaho southward into Mexico in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. The 'western arid region' is east of and (except for Mojave sky islands) discontiguous from the Mojave Desert, [6] unlike the southwestern Great Basin deserts adjacent with ecotones to the northern Mojave Desert.

See also[edit]

References[edit]