Subtropical Desert: Climate and Biome

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  • 0:01 Definition
  • 0:36 Climate
  • 1:11 Plant Species
  • 1:39 Animal Species
  • 2:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
Have you ever found yourself in a hot, dry, desert landscape? If so, you might have been in a subtropical desert. In this lesson you will explore the climate and biome characteristics that make subtropical deserts unique and able to sustain life.


Have you ever traveled to a place where the ground was warm, the air was hot and it barely rained? Was the vegetation there short and was there no shade? If so, you were in a subtropical desert. A subtropical desert is a type of ecosystem, or biome that is characterized by high temperatures, very low precipitation and warm soils. Examples of these types of deserts are the Mojave, Sonoran, Chihuahuan, Sahara and the Great Victoria Deserts.


The climate of a subtropical desert is hot and dry. These regions are usually located right above the equator. Typically, the temperature averages around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but can reach 90 degrees in the summer. These deserts can also freeze during colder months or at night. They typically get less than eight inches of water a year, and the precipitation comes in the form of rain during the monsoon seasons, which are typically July through September. These deserts are usually found between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

Plant Species

The subtropical desert biome is home to a variety of plants capable of living in hot, dry climates. Many grasses, shrubs, succulents and low-growing plants live in subtropical deserts. These plants have evolved to live in this adverse climate. They store water and live in low fertility soils. In some cases, these plants can look wilted and incapable of growth, but they perk back up when water is available after an intense rainfall event.

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