Dry Climates

Dry climates, categorized as arid or semiarid, experience low precipitation. Arid regions support limited vegetation, while semiarid areas sustain grasslands. Flora and fauna in these zones adapt to water scarcity.

Parts of a Dry Climate

A dry climate has two different parts.  The first part is the dry arid area and the second part is called the dry semi-arid area.

  • Dry arid area-The dry arid area is the desert that are found on the Earth.  The desert areas range to around 12% of all of the surface of the Earth.  If an area is a dry and arid area, it means that it gets less than 300 millimeters of rain per year.  In a dry area there are very few plants and very few animals that live in these areas.
Regions with semi-arid climates
  • Dry semi-arid area-The dry semi-arid area is the grasslands that are found on the Earth.  The grassland areas range to around 14% of all of the surface of the Earth.  If an area is a semi-arid area, it means that the area gets enough rain for different types of grasses to grow.  Most of the semi-arid areas get rain and snow throughout the different seasons.

Dry Arid Area

The dry arid area is known for being dry and the word arid means a place that is dry.  There is over 1/3 of the Earth that is part of the dry arid climate.

This area is found around 30 degrees north and south of the Equator because the Equator is extremely hot.

A dry arid area does not necessarily mean that the area will be hot.  There are many places where there is a dry arid cold area, and this is because of how the cool currents move.

Seasons of the Dry Arid Area

Sand dunes in the Sahara desert

Most dry arid areas do not have four seasons like other places are and they mostly have either summer or winter.

Some of the dry arid areas are always dry and hot such as the Sahara Desert.

Climate of the Dry Arid Area

The temperature in the dry arid area can get over 130 degrees Fahrenheit and can be as cold as -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  The temperature depends on where the desert is located.

If a desert is located further away from the equator, it will be cooler than the desert that is close to the equator.

Precipitation of the Dry Arid Area

The reason that an area is classified as a dry arid area is because of the little precipitation that the area gets.  Most dry arid areas get less than 10 inches of rain each year, while some of the areas get even less than that.

Plants in the Dry Arid Area

Since the weather is extreme in dry arid areas, there are not a lot of different plants that can survive.  A lot of the reasons are because there is little precipitation that plants need in order to grow.

Plants that do survive in the dry arid area have to need very little water in order to survive and most of them are able to store their own water.

Most of the plants that are located in the dry arid areas have either thorns or long roots.  These different features of the plant help them to be able to store water and to keep animals from eating them.

Some of the plants include:

  • Scrub Bushes
  • Grasses
  • Cactus
  • Saguaro Cactus
  • Prickly Pear Cactus
  • Aloe Vera

Animals of the Dry Arid Areas

Fennec Fox

When there is a dry arid area, it means that the area gets very little precipitation and is very dry.  These areas make it very hard for most animals to live in these conditions.

There are still some animals and plants that live in this area.

Some of these include:

  • Fennec Foxes
  • Bactrian Camels
  • Mexican Coyotes
  • Sidewinder Snakes
  • Thorny Devil lizard
  • Dung Beetles
  • Desert Fox
  • Scorpion

The animals adapt to the environment that can reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit by filtering their blood through their ears, by growing thick fur on their feet so that they can run through the hot desert, burrowing, growing fur that reflects light and by using their bodies to store water so they do not get too hot or thirsty.

Some animals, such as the camel, have extra eyelashes and eyelids to help keep the sand out.

Semi-Arid Area

The areas that are semi-arid areas are known as grasslands.  The grasslands cover around 14% of the surface of the Earth.  These areas are known because they get enough rain for all different types of grasses to grow.

Seasons of the Semi-Arid Areas

A semi-arid area has usually two seasons; winter and summer.

The summer months are sometimes drier than the winter months and the winter months get more rain because the cool air will hit into the warm land area and this will cause more rain and precipitation to fall.

Climate of the Semi-Arid Area

Most of the semi-arid areas are found outside of the dry arid areas.  These areas can either have plenty of rainfall in order to grow crops, or they can go a long time without water and there can be long periods of droughts that cause farmers to lose their vegetation.

A drought is a long period of time where there is no rain.

The temperatures of the semi-arid area can go as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter but can be much warmer during the summer.  The temperature of the semi-arid area depends on what the temperatures are around them.

There are two types of semi-arid areas:

  • Hot semi-arid areas-These areas are located in the sub-tropics and tropics and near tropical savannas.  These have hot summers and cool winters and very little rainfall.  Some of the hot semi-arid areas are found in Africa, Spain, South Asia, and Australia.
Regions with hot semi-arid climates
  • Cold semi-arid areas-These areas are located in areas that are away from large bodies of water.  The climate for these is dry summers and cold winters.  Sometimes in the winter these areas have snowfall.  The temperature in the cold semi-arid areas can change all through the night.  Most of these are found in North America, parts of North Africa, parts of South Africa, South America, and in Europe.
Regions with cold semi-arid climates

Precipitation of the Semi-Arid Area

The area is considered only semi-arid if it gets from 10 to 20 inches of rain each year.  Some of the grassland areas can get up to 40 inches of rain per year while some of the grassland areas only get from 5 to 10 inches of rain per year.

How much rainfall that the semi-arid area gets depends on how the ocean currents are changing with the seasons.

Plants of the Semi-Arid Area

Semi-arid Shrub

Since the semi-arid area gets enough rainfall for there to be plants and trees, you can expect to see a lot of trees, grasses, and plants, but they still can only require little water because of the extreme precipitation changes.  Sometimes, there is plenty of water while other times there is little or no water.

Most of the grasses that are found in the semi-arid areas are grasses and shrubs.  Some of the semi-arid plants have thorns and are waxy to keep water in and to be protected from animals eating them.

Some of the plants in the semi-arid area include:

  • Semi-arid Shrub
  • Cat Claw
  • Mesquite
  • Brittle Brushes
  • Bur Sage

Animals of the Semi-Arid Area


Just like the plants, there are very few animals that live in semi-arid areas.  Most of these animals are the ones that have learned to adapt to the climate of having just enough water or not having enough water.

Some of these animals include:

  • Elephants
  • Lions
  • Jackals
  • Wolves
  • Zebras
  • Kangaroo Rats
  • Birds
  • Grasshoppers
  • Ants
  • Skunks

Coastal Desert

The coastal desert is a desert area that is cool to warm with temperatures from 13-24 degrees Celsius in the summer months and -4 degrees Celsius in the winter months.

Here are some more facts about the Coastal Desert:

  • 9-13 centimeters of rainfall per year.
  • Fine textured soil.
  • Plants have a long root system so they can store rainfall.

Plants of the Coastal Desert


The plants in the coastal desert have learned to be able to adapt to little rainfall by having thick stems that are grooved or have ridges so that they can use the water as they suck the water through their long roots.

Some of the plants of the Coastal Desert include:

  • Salt Bush
  • Buckwheat Bush
  • Black Bush
  • Rice Grass
  • Little Leaf Horesebrush
  • Black Sage
  • Chrysanthemums

Animals of the Coastal Desert


Animals in the coastal desert have learned to adapt to the lack of rainfall.  Some of the animals hibernate for up to nine months until it rains.  Other animals will not lay eggs until the weather conditions allow the eggs to be able to hatch.

Here are some animals found in the Coastal Desert:

  • Coyote
  • Badger
  • Toads
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Golden Eagle
  • Bald Eagle
  • Lizards
  • Snakes

Dry Climates Facts for Kids:

  • The Atacama Desert that is located in Chile is a dry arid area.  This desert gets only 0.04 inches of rain each year.
  • A camel, a dry arid animal, can drink up to 40 gallons of water in 10 minutes.
  • The hottest temperature in the world happened in the deserts of Africa.
  • When an area is semi-arid, it is caused by the mountains because the mountains block the moisture from reaching the area.
  • The Australian Outback is a semi-arid area.
  • Colorado is known as a semi-arid area even though it is mostly cold and snowy in the wintertime.
  • Another dry climate is the cold desert.  The Cold Desert gets up to 26 centimeters of rain per year.
  • Animals of the cold desert include animals such as jackrabbits, kangaroo mice, grasshopper mice, antelope, and ground squirrels.
  • In the Cold Desert, they have warm summers and cold winters with winter having snowfall.
  • Cold Deserts are located in Antarctica, Greenland, and Nearctic realms.

What Did You Learn?

  • Why is a dry climate area?
    There are many dry climate areas, and this means that the area gets little or no rainfall.  The area is defined by how much precipitation the area gets.
  • What are some dry climate areas?
    Some dry climate areas include semi-arid areas, dry arid areas, Coastal Deserts, Cold Deserts, and more.
  • Do animals live in dry climate areas?
    There are some animals that live in dry climate areas.  The animals have learned to adjust and adapt to the areas around them so that they can live and learn to live with little or no water.
  • Are there plants in the dry climate areas?
    There are a few different kinds of plants in dry climates such as cactus, grasses, and other plants.  The plants have also learned to adapt to getting little to no water.
  • What makes a dry climate a dry climate?
    In order for a climate to be considered to be a dry climate, it means that the area gets 10 inches of rain or other precipitation per year.
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