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Transcript of Coastal Desert
The Coastal Desert
- Coastal deserts generally are found on the western edges of continents near the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. These deserts occur in moderately cool to warm areas such as the Nearctic and Neotropical realm. Ex: The Atacama of Chile.
Basic Abiotic Factors
Climatogram for Atacama, Chile
-less than ten inches of rain. Evaporation is occurring at a faster rate than precipitation.
-arid conditions mean that soil takes a long time to recover after disturbed.
-the landscapes are vulnerable due to the dry climate, Unstable soil, etc.
-climate change is melting the ice in the world which is most desserts source of fresh water flow.
-increasing evaporation and dust storms are pushing the deserts further into communities. The boundaries are increasing at a fast rate.
-desertification is exacerbated by human exploration of ecosystems that border deserts, causing land degradation, soil erosion, sterility, and loss of biodiversity.
-not any national parks found.
- Precipitation: The average rainfall measures 8-13 cm in many areas. The maximum annual precipitation over a long period of years has been 37 cm with a minimum of 5 cm.
- Solar Radiation: Coastal deserts receive about two times less radiation than a normal semi-arid desert
- A few limiting factors include temperature, bursts of moisture (hence coastal desert), deserts are almost the definition of a limiting factor because they generally lack essential ingredients you would find in other places
Coastal deserts are affected by cold ocean currents that parallel the coast. Because local wind systems dominate the trade winds, these deserts are less stable than other deserts. Winter fogs, produced by upwelling cold currents, frequently blanket coastal deserts and block solar radiation. Coastal deserts are relatively complex because they are at the juncture of terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric systems.
- Soil Composition: The soil is fine-textured with a moderate salt content. It is fairly porous with good drainage. Some plants have extensive root systems close to the surface where they can take advantage of any rain showers. All of the plants with thick and fleshy leaves or stems can take in large quantities of water when it is available and store it for future use. In some plants, the surfaces are corrugated with longitudinal ridges and grooves. When water is available, the stem swells so that the grooves are shallow and the ridges far apart. As the water is used, the stem shrinks so that the grooves are deep and ridges close together.
- Weather: Winds blow in an easterly pattern and prevent moisture from moving in. The cool winters of coastal deserts are followed by moderately long, warm summers. The average summer temperature ranges from 13-24° C; winter temperatures are 5° C or below. The maximum annual temperature is about 35° C and the minimum is about -4° C. In Chile, the temperature ranges from -2 to 5° C in July and 21-25° C in January.
Some animals have specialized adaptations for dealing with the desert heat and lack of water. Some toads seal themselves in burrows with gelatinous secretions and remain inactive for eight or nine months until a heavy rain occurs. Amphibians that pass through larval stages have accelerated life cycles, which improves their chances of reaching maturity before the waters evaporate. Some insects lay eggs that remain dormant until the environmental conditions are suitable for hatching. The fairy shrimps also lay dormant eggs.
Climate and Seasonal Patterns of the Coastal Desert:
Atacama, Chile is a perfect example of a coastal desert, so we decided to use it when representing a climatogram for the coastal desert. Coastal deserts usually have pretty consistent temperatures that are usually in the low 60’s. Throughout the year, temperatures do not vary much, and range from around 55 degrees to around 70 degrees. The warmest months are around January and February, and the coldest months are around June and July. Throughout the year Coastal Deserts do not receive very much rain, about 1 inch on average, and occasionally two inches. The total amount of rain that a coastal desert receives on average is about 14 inches. The rainiest months are around May through July.
How the climate effects Life in the Coastal Desert:
Life in the Atacama Desert is strictly limited. There are only a few plants and animals who live here. Next to the Atacama Desert is the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Every now and then when the weather becomes very hot, a fog of water rises from the ocean and into the desert. This is the way that most plants survive including algae, cacti and lichens which cover almost all of the plants in the Atacama Desert. These plants' roots reach far down into the soil to use as much water as possible from underground. The northern coast has almost no vegetation. The valleys along streams support plant communities are composed of trees. A few flowers live on the coast of the Atacama Desert and rely on the sea for their water supply.
Little Leaf Horsebrush
Great Horned Owl
In some coastal deserts such as the Atacama in South America there are almost no living things in the soil and because it is so devoid of life the only decomposers are chemicals in the sand.
Black Sage is also known as Salvia Mellifera which comes from the Latin salveo, “to save” because components of the plants oils and antimicrobial against bacteria
The saltbush is a grayish-white shrub that grows to be about 2 to 3 feet tall and it gets its name from the salt deposits on its leaves.
Black Bush occurs in more than just one biome and is often found in pure sands and occurs with salt brush.
Little-leaf horsebrush is a shrub that occurs from 30 to 80 cm tall with many branches that are often found in open dry places
Chrysothamnus nauseosus occurs as a dominant or minor species in many regions occasionally alongside sage brush and is considered an important grazing species.
The coyote is a part of the canine family. They use their tails to display aggression and their hearing is good for finding food and avoiding predators.
Badgers are easily recognized for their black stripes and they live underground in families of up to 12 individuals.
The Golden Eagle is the largest bird of prey in North America; it is extremely swift and can dive upon their prey at speeds of more than 150 miles per hour.
The great horned owl is easily recognizable because of the feather tufts on its head and is adaptable to environments from the Artic to South America.
Bald eagles are large predatory raptors that are brown on the body and head with a white head and yellow beak.
It is a solitary scavenger and will travel long distances each night in search of food