Cool Deserts

By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: May 24, 2024

What Does Cool Deserts Mean?

Cool deserts are barren areas characterized by short summers and long winters. These deserts receive minimal precipitation, mainly in the form of snow.

Vegetation is sparse, as these areas never get warm enough for many plants to grow, with the exception of certain species of grass, shrubs, and moss.

Animals in cool deserts burrow into the earth much like animals do in hot deserts, but in this case it is to keep warm rather than to cool down. Due to this temperature regulation method, some animals are found in both cool deserts and hot deserts.

Cool deserts are also known as cold deserts.

Safeopedia Explains Cool Deserts

Cool deserts are found in the basin range of Utah and Nevada, the Antarctic, Greenland, the Nearctic realm, and parts of Western Asia.

Features of Cool Deserts

Cool deserts have unique features that set them apart from hot deserts, coastal deserts, and other types of deserts. Some of the characteristics of cool deserts include:

  • Short summers that are moist and moderately warm (21 to 26°C)
  • Long winters that get incredibly cold (-2 to 4°C)
  • Precipitation averaging 15 to 26 cm per year
  • Heavy, silty, and salty soil and alluvial fans with relatively porous soil and good drainage
  • Spiny and deciduous plants, mosses, and fungi, all widely scattered
  • Jackrabbits, pocket mice, kangaroo rats, kangaroo mice, grasshopper mice, and antelope ground squirrels

Plants and Trees of the Cold Desert

The most common vegetation found in cool deserts are grasses that tend to grow in clumps called bunchgrass. The terrain is also covered by shrubs and brush plants such as sagebrush.

Some trees like the Camelthorn grows in the Gobi Desert, and the Saxaul, a small and bushy tree grows in the Turkestan desert. Pistachio trees grow in the Iranian desert, and Tamarugo trees that produce edible fruit grow in the Atacama Desert.

Safety Precautions for Cold Weather Workers

Some occupations require people to work in cold weather conditions. Biting temperatures can expose workers to frostbite, cold stress, hypothermia, and trench foot. Knowing the prevailing wind chill temperatures can help workers choose the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and work safely.

The following are basic safe work practices that can help workers stay safe in cold weather

  • Understand the symptoms of cold stress, such as pain, tingling, leg cramps, numbness, blisters, and skin reddening
  • Wear head covering, at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing, and insulated gloves and boots
  • Regularly monitor you physical conditions and how people around you are doing
  • Take frequent breaks in a dry and warm area
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids


Cold Deserts

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