Deserts of Australia

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Deserts in Australia.
Please note the lakes shown are not permanent water sources, they only fill with water intermittently. Deserts in Australia en.png
Deserts in Australia.
Please note the lakes shown are not permanent water sources, they only fill with water intermittently.
Deserts of Australia (in red), overlaid with internal boundaries and Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) biogeographic regions. IBRA 6 Deserts legend.png
Deserts of Australia (in red), overlaid with internal boundaries and Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) biogeographic regions.
Climate zones in Australia Australia-climate-map MJC01.png
Climate zones in Australia
Rain days in Australia Rain days in Australia.svg
Rain days in Australia

Named deserts of Australia cover 1,371,000 square kilometres (529,000 sq mi), or 18% of the Australian mainland. However, approximately 35% of the Australian continent receives so little rain it is effectively desert. The deserts in Australia are primarily distributed throughout the western plateau and interior lowlands of the country. [1]

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Australia (continent) Continent on the Earths Southern and Eastern hemispheres

The continent of Australia, sometimes known in technical contexts by the names Sahul, Australinea or Meganesia to distinguish it from the country of Australia, consists of the land masses which sit on Australia's continental plate. This includes mainland Australia, Tasmania, and the island of New Guinea. Situated in the geographical region of Oceania, it is the smallest of the seven traditional continents in the English conception.

Desert Area of land where little precipitation occurs

A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one-third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid. This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called polar deserts or "cold deserts". Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.


By international standards, Australian deserts receive relatively high rates of rainfall. [2] No weather station situated in an arid region records less than 100 mm of average annual rainfall. [3] The deserts of Australia, particularly in the interior, lack any significant summer rains. [2]

Deserts are not necessarily completely devoid of vegetation, but have large areas where vegetation is very limited in height or extent.


DesertState/TerritoryArea (km2)Area (miles2)Area Rank% of Australia
Great Victoria Desert Western Australia, South Australia 348,750 km2134,650 sq mi14.5%
Great Sandy Desert Western Australia267,250 km2103,190 sq mi23.5%
Tanami Desert Western Australia, Northern Territory 184,500 km271,200 sq mi32.4%
Simpson Desert Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia176,500 km268,100 sq mi42.3%
Gibson Desert Western Australia156,000 km260,000 sq mi52.0%
Little Sandy Desert Western Australia111,500 km243,100 sq mi61.5%
Strzelecki Desert South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales 80,250 km230,980 sq mi71.0%
Sturt Stony Desert South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales29,750 km211,490 sq mi80.3%
Tirari Desert South Australia15,250 km25,890 sq mi90.2%
Pedirka Desert South Australia1,250 km2480 sq mi100.016%

Great Victoria Desert

The Great Victoria Desert lies in Western Australia and South Australia. It is over 800 kilometres (500 mi) wide and covers an area of 348,750 square kilometres (134,650 sq mi).

Western Australia State in Australia

Western Australia is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east, and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia's largest state, with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres, and the second-largest country subdivision in the world, surpassed only by Russia's Sakha Republic. The state has about 2.6 million inhabitants – around 11 percent of the national total – of whom the vast majority live in the south-west corner, 79 per cent of the population living in the Perth area, leaving the remainder of the state sparsely populated.

South Australia State of Australia

South Australia is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, and fifth largest by population. It has a total of 1.7 million people, and its population is the second most highly centralised in Australia, after Western Australia, with more than 77 percent of South Australians living in the capital, Adelaide, or its environs. Other population centres in the state are relatively small; Mount Gambier, the second largest centre, has a population of 28,684.

Gibson Desert

A Toyota Land Cruiser in the Gibson Desert MVC-684F.JPG
A Toyota Land Cruiser in the Gibson Desert

The Gibson Desert lies in central Western Australia. The desert is about 156,000 square kilometres (60,000 sq mi) in size. Most of the inhabitants of the area are Indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Australians are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands before British colonisation. The time of arrival of the first Indigenous peoples on the continent and nearby islands is a matter of debate among researchers. The earliest conclusively human remains found in Australia are those of Mungo Man LM3 and Mungo Lady, which have been dated to around 50,000 years BP. Recent archaeological evidence from the analysis of charcoal and artefacts revealing human use suggests a date as early as 65,000 BP. Luminescence dating has suggested habitation in Arnhem Land as far back as 60,000 years BP. Genetic research has inferred a date of habitation as early as 80,000 years BP. Other estimates have ranged up to 100,000 years and 125,000 years BP.

Desert group

The Western Desert cultural bloc or just Western Desert is a cultural region in central Australia covering about 600,000 square kilometres (230,000 sq mi), including the Gibson Desert, the Great Victoria Desert, the Great Sandy and Little Sandy Deserts in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. The Western Desert cultural bloc can be said to stretch from the Nullarbor in the south to the Kimberley in the north, and from the Percival Lakes in the west through to the Pintupi lands in the Northern Territory.

Climate issues

Australia's climate is mostly determined by the hot, sinking air of the subtropical high pressure belt. [4] Dry conditions are associated with an El Niño–Southern Oscillation in Australia. Vegetation in arid areas is primarily dependent upon soil type. [4]

Climate of Australia

Australia's climate is governed mostly by its size and by the hot, sinking air of the subtropical high pressure belt. This moves north and south with the seasons. The climate is variable, with frequent droughts lasting several seasons, thought to be caused in part by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Australia has a wide variety of climates due to its large geographical size. The largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid. Only the south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate and moderately fertile soil. The northern part of the country has a tropical climate, varying between tropical rainforests, grasslands and desert.

El Niño–Southern Oscillation Irregularly periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean

El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is an irregularly periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, affecting the climate of much of the tropics and subtropics. The warming phase of the sea temperature is known as El Niño and the cooling phase as La Niña. The Southern Oscillation is the accompanying atmospheric component, coupled with the sea temperature change: El Niño is accompanied by high air surface pressure in the tropical western Pacific and La Niña with low air surface pressure there. The two periods last several months each and typically occur every few years with varying intensity per period.

Extensive areas are covered by longitudinal dunes. Forty percent of Australia is covered by dunes. [4] Central Australia is very dry, averaging 150 mm of rainfall each year. |title=Deserts and Desert Environments

Ecological issues

Many introduced species have affected the fauna and flora of Australia's desert regions. The Australian feral camel affects native vegetation. This is partly because Australian desert vegetation evolved without any major herbivores present. [4] Uncontrolled access to more sensitive areas by four-wheel-drive vehicles is also an issue.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Simpson Desert desert in Central Australia

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Desert climate deserts climate

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Sahara desert in Africa

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Tabernas Desert desert in Spain

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Tirari Desert desert in central Australia

The Tirari Desert is a 15,250 square kilometres (5,888 sq mi) desert in the eastern part of the Far North region of South Australia. It stretches 212 km from north to south and 153 km from east to west.

Geography of Australia Geographic features of Australia

The geography of Australia encompasses a wide variety of biogeographic regions being the world's smallest continent but the sixth-largest country in the world. The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts. The geography of the country is extremely diverse, ranging from the snow-capped mountains of the Australian Alps and Tasmania to large deserts, tropical and temperate forests.

Tropical desert

Tropical deserts are located in regions between 5 and 30 degrees latitude. Environment is very extreme. they have the highest average monthly temperature on Earth. Rainfall is sporadic; precipitation may not be observed at all in a few years. In addition to these extreme environmental and climate conditions, most tropical deserts are covered with sand and rocks, and thus too flat and lacking in vegetation to block out the wind. Wind may erode and transport sand, rocks and other materials; these are known as eolian processes. Landforms caused by wind erosion vary greatly in characteristics and size. Representative landforms include depressions and pans, Yardangs, inverted topography and ventifacts. No significant populations can survive in tropical deserts due to extreme aridity, heat and the paucity of vegetation; only specific flora and fauna with special behavioral and physical mechanisms are supported. Although tropical deserts are considered to be harsh and barren, they are in fact hotbeds of natural resources and plays a significant role in economic development.


  1. Geosciences Australia –Deserts
  2. 1 2 Aleshire, Peter; Geoffrey H. Nash (2007). Deserts: The Extreme Earth. Infobase Publishing. p. 137. ISBN   1438106661 . Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  3. Mabbutt, J. A. (2012). "Landforms of the Australian Desert". In El-Baz, F. (ed.). Deserts and arid lands: Volume 1 of Remote Sensing of Earth Resources and Environment. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 78. ISBN   9400960808 . Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Laity, Julie J. (2009). Deserts and Desert Environments. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 43, 45. ISBN   1444300741 . Retrieved 8 November 2012.

Further reading