Educational & Community Outreach

Cold Deserts

Lesson Topic: Organisms and Environments
Objectives: When most people think of deserts, they think of regions of the Earth that have very high/hot temperatures and are sandy and dry. However, some of the world's greatest deserts do not fit this type of description. These deserts are known as cold deserts. The regions of the Arctic and Antarctic are the Earth's cold deserts. Due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis, the sun shines in these regions for only a small portion of the year. When the sun is shining, the rays of the sun slant through think layers of the atmosphere. This lack of adequate sunlight causes temperatures to become so low that very little frozen snow and ice actually melts. Also, very little rain falls in these regions. Because of the permanently low temperatures, water is always frozen and useless to living things. This makes it extremely difficult for plants, animals, and people to survive in the Antarctic. The purpose of this activity then is to develop a weather forecast for Antarctica, and then compare it to that of a hot desert weather forecast.

Files for this activity:

Cold Deserts Activity Instructions (Word Document)

United States Polar Rock Repository (USPRR)
Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University
108 Scott Hall
1090 Carmack Rd
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-292-5348 or 6531