Top 10 Largest and Beautiful Deserts In The World

Top 10 Largest and Beautiful Deserts In The United States

Photo KnowInsiders
Top 10 Biggest Deserts In The World. Photo KnowInsiders

What do you think of when we mention deserts? The first image that comes to our mind is endless sand dunes, but a dry sandstorm and a sky filled with only harsh sunlight. Over the years, under the influence of nature and humans, the rate of desertification is increasing. There are many deserts that were originally forests or inhabited by humans, but now have become an only place for animals and plants.

What is a desert?

Deserts are defined as dry regions receiving less than 12 inches of precipitation annually, and are formed when regional climate changes result in long-lasting drought conditions.

Deserts Take Up a Major Chunk of Earth

Did you know deserts occupy more than 1/5th of the planet’s total space? If calculated, it translates to a whopping 20.9 million square km. Here’s one more thing: deserts are found in almost every continent except Europe.

Not all Deserts Have Sand

Here’s one of the exciting facts about deserts: only a mere 20% of the world’s total deserts have sand.

Top 10 Biggest Deserts In The World

1. Antarctic Desert

The Mystery of 10 Biggest Deserts In The World
Antarctic Desert

Area (km²): 14,000,000

Location: Antarctica

The Antarctic is classified as a polar desert. Measuring 5.5 million square miles (14.2 million sq. km), it is the largest desert in the world. Unlike most global deserts, the Antarctic covers the entire continent. In fact, an astonishing 98 percent is permanently covered by a sheet of ice. It is considered a desert because it rains on average only 10 mm every year. Some experts even believe that certain parts located away from the coast have not had rain in the past 14 million years.

Antarctica is the Largest Ice Desert

Antarctica is, in fact, a desert, covering almost 5,339,000 square miles – a land size similar to Russia.

Furthermore, it’s the only desert continent in the world where snow never evaporates. It’s also the highest desert since its elevation outstrips any other desert. Let’s not forget about the cold temperature of Antarctica, which averages around -49 degrees.

The lowest temperatures ever recorded were – 92.9 and -94.7 degrees.

2. Arctic Desert

Area (km²): 13,985,000

Location: Arctic Ocean islands north of Norway and Russia

The cold Arctic Desert is the second largest desert in the world, located in the northern polar region of Earth. The desert stretches across an area of the Arctic Ocean 2,000 km from east to west and 1,000 km from north to south, covering a number of island groups of the north coast of Norway and Russia.

The Arctic Desert observes very similar environmental features as the Antarctic Desert, though has a slightly higher precipitation rate of 50cm per year – approximately the same amount as the Sahara.

3. Sahara Desert

The Mystery of 10 Biggest Deserts In The World

Area (km²): 9,200,000

Location: North Africa

In the Sahara, the rainfall is very low compared to other parts of the world. The average annual rainfall in the Sahara is only 25mm and in the East of the Sahara it is only 5mm. In particular, the rain here is not in the form of particles falling directly to the ground, but it exists in the form of fog due to the sudden temperature change between the temperature of the day and the temperature of the night.

1. Sahara means Great Desert in Arabic. This distinctive moniker is the result of numerous exceptional qualities. With rivers and streams, rocky plateaus, arid valleys, several lush oases, and a variety of flora, wildlife, and reptiles, the Sahara desert resembles enormous sand dunes.

2. The Sahara Desert spans an area of more than 9 million square kilometers, which is comparable to the combined size of China and the United States.

3. The majority of North Africa is made up of desert, including substantial portions of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mali, Eritrea, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara. Researchers found that the Sahara desert is growing. This desert has grown by about 650,000 square kilometers since 1962.

4. Australian Desert

Area (km²): 2,700,000

Location: Australia

Australia actually has 10 individual deserts. These are:

  • Great Victoria Desert (348,
  • Great Sandy Desert (267,
  • Tanami Desert (184,
  • Simpson Desert (176,
  • Gibson Desert (156,
  • Little Sandy Desert (111,
  • Strzelecki Desert (80,
  • Sturt Stony Desert (29,
  • Tirari Desert (15,
  • Pedirka Desert (1250sq. km)

The Great Victoria Desert is Australia's largest desert at around 422,466 km2. Since it's so huge, it stretches across Western Australia and South Australia. In terms of its landscape, the Great Victoria Desert has stunning salt lakes, sandy areas, grassy plains and rocky areas. Even though deserts are arid and dry, they can still have a range of different types of terrain.

READ MORE: Top 10 Largest and Beautiful Deserts In The World

5. The Arabian Desert

The Mystery of 10 Biggest Deserts In The World
Arabian Desert

Area (km²): 2,330,000

Location: Middle East

The Arabian Desert covers Saudi Arabia, Oman and parts of Iraq. Depending on the location, the dry heat in this desert varies. In the central desert, temperatures can reach 54 degrees Celsius. Areas near the edge of the desert or on the highlands are more humid, sometimes with fog and fog.

The average annual rainfall here is less than 100 mm, but depending on the location it can range from 0 to 500 mm. Thanks to human irrigation, many parts of the desert have been covered with green. This is indeed a good sign in the fact that the earth is becoming more and more deserted. However, there are issues that need to be considered. Circular tree planting has become popular in Saudi Arabia over the past three decades. Engineers dug deep into the 20,000-year-old underground aquifer to collect irrigation water. It is estimated that if the current rate of water use continues, the water source will be exhausted within the next 50 years.

6. Gobi Desert

The Mystery of 10 Biggest Deserts In The World
Gobi Desert

Area (km²): 1,295,000

Location: Eastern Asia

The Gobi Desert is located in the territory of two countries, China and Mongolia, with an area of 1.3 million square kilometers. Gobi is famous as one of the five largest deserts in the world and the largest desert in Asia with a lot of attractive landscapes and interesting experiences.

How is the weather like at Gobi?

The Gobi Desert experiences extremely harsh summertime temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. Despite the hot and cold temperatures, it continues to draw many travelers who desire to explore and have new experiences. Due to the abundance of sand dunes, gravel plains, and imposing rocky mountains in the Gobi, spectacular natural beauty is created.

The Gobi Desert, in particular, has created the rainy and dry seasons. The average annual rainfall in the Gobi Desert ranges from 50 to 200 millimeters. The Gobi Desert is a chilly desert since it gets down to -40 degrees Celsius in the winter and has snow covering the desert. Tourists with a strong sense of adventure should choose the Gobi desert to explore its splendor. Additionally, this desert is where several thousand years ago, dinosaur fossils were discovered.

7. Kalahari Desert

Area (km²): 900,000

Location: Southern Africa

The Kalahari Desert is covered with sand and has been active since long ago. The Kalahari Desert has less than 500mm of rainfall and in some places only 200mm. Archaeologists have studied that 1 million years ago there was a fire in this area. The Kalahari Desert covers an area of 930,000 square kilometers. The Kalahari is largely covered with russet sand and has no permanent surface water. Water drainage is by dry valleys, seasonally inundated basins, as well as the extensive sand basins of the Makgadikgadi Basin in Botswana and the Etosha Basin in Namibia.

However, the Kalahari is not a real desert. Some areas of the Kalahari receive over 250 mm of erratic rainfall annually and they are suitable for plant growth, it is only really arid in the southwest (less than 175 mm of annual rainfall) making The Kalahari is a fossil desert. Summer temperatures in the Kalahari Desert range from 20 to 40°C. In winter, the Kalahari has a cold and dry climate with frost at night. Average late winter temperatures can reach below 0°C.

8. Patagonian Desert

The Mystery of 10 Biggest Deserts In The World
Patagonian Desert

Area (km²): 620,000

Location: Argentina

The Patagonian Desert is located in Argentina. Patagonia is mainly a treeless sandy plain stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andes and especially the Andes side with little rain. With a huge area of 630,000 square kilometers (260,000 sq mi), this desert belongs to Argentina. Desert and semi-desert areas extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andes, mostly treeless plains (according to Encyclopedia Britannica).

Like Death Valley in California, the Patagonian Desert sits on the less-rainy slopes of the Andes. The extreme heat here is no less than the valley of death. The average annual rainfall here is only from 160 to 200mm. According to Susan Woodward, a professor of geography emeritus at Radford University Virginia, the harsh environment here is mainly due to the influence of topography. As air masses are forced to move around mountains and deep depressions, they become hotter and their capacity to hold water vapor increases. On the less rainy side of a mountain range, water evaporates very quickly, thus creating an arid desert environment.

9. Syrian Desert

The Mystery of 10 Biggest Deserts In The World
Syrian Desert

Area (km²): 520,000

Location: Middle East

The area of the Syrian desert is about 518,000 square kilometers (about 200,000 square miles). This place is truly a dead land when described as desolate and barren. The Syrian desert covers much of Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria, where it is "marked" by lava - an insurmountable barrier to humans until recent decades. Now, we have highways and oil pipelines have been built along this area. The average annual rainfall in this area is about 125mm.

Since ancient times, people have set foot in the Syrian desert. Several modern discoveries have confirmed that. The archaeological site known as "Syria's Stonehenge" was discovered in 2009. A 2012 report by Discovery said it contained numerous stone circles and tomb sites. The Es Safa volcano near Damascus is the largest volcano in Arabia. Lava vents were active about 12,000 years ago during the Holocene Epoch. More recently, a lake of boiling lava was found around the area in 1850.

10. Great Basin

Area (km²): 492,000

Location: United States of America

The Great Basin Desert exists because of the "rainshadow effect" created by the Sierra Nevada Mountains of eastern California. When prevailing winds from the Pacific Ocean rise to go over the Sierra, the air cools and loses most of its moisture as rain. By the time the winds cross over the mountains and sweep down the far side, they are very dry and absorb moisture from the surrounding area. This drying effect is responsible for creating the Great Basin Desert.

Facts about Great Basin

• On October 27, 1986, it was incorporated into the national park.

• There are about 190,000 square miles (592,00 square kilometers) of arid land there.

• Temperature varies from 13°F to 87°F and is rarely below -3°F or above 93°F.

• Bristlecone pines grow in isolated groves near treelines. They can survive for 4,000 years.

• Night skies are dark because of low humidity and minimal light pollution

Top 9 Largest Deserts In The World Top 9 Largest Deserts In The World

Covering approximately one-third of our planet’s land surface, deserts are a defining geographical phenomenon. Here are th top 9 largest deserts in the world.

Top 10 Largest and Beautiful Deserts In The World Top 10 Largest and Beautiful Deserts In The World

It is a fact that some of of location on our Earth are a little more hostile to life than others. Let's find out more ...

Top 10 Largest and Beautiful Deserts In The United States Top 10 Largest and Beautiful Deserts In The United States

Let’s discover top 10 deserts in the US and learn about interesting facts.