namib desert.jpg
Dunes in the Namib Desert

Geographical Distribution:


Task 1:

1) Insert the map above into your notes and then name and describe the distribution of tropical deserts using the map above and the other resources available to you.

2) Explain why Tropical Deserts are hot and dry. You may use labelled diagrams in your answer. (4 marks) Use the mark scheme below to help structure your answer.

Mark scheme Hot and Dry.PNG

3) Explain why arid deserts are found close to the tropics.

4) Why are most tropical deserts found on the western side of continents?

Physical Characteristics:


Task 2:

Use pages 205-208 in your text book to help answer these questions.

1) Insert the two climate graphs above into your notes and describe them. Include the following information:

  • Hottest and Coldest months

  • Max, Min temperature and temperature range.

  • Average temperature

  • Wettest and driest month. (give amounts in mm)

  • Average Rainfall

  • Any seasonal pattern.

2) Explain why tropical deserts have such a large daily temperature range.

3) Explain why annual temperature range shown on both graphs is quite large compared to the equatorial rainforest.

4) How can we tell from the climate graph that Alice Springs is in the southern hemisphere?

5) Explain how high pressure is responsible for the aridity (lack of rain) in tropical deserts.

6) Compare the graph for Tamanrasset with the graph for Iquitos on the Tropical Rainforest page. Use the same data required in question 1 above.

The Tropical Desert Ecosystem:

Task 3:

Use Page 211 in your text book to answer these questions:

1) Define an Ecosystem

2) What are the links between rocks and soil in an ecosystem?

3) How are vegetation and wildlife linked in an ecosystem?

4) How is climate linked to the soil, wildlife and vegetation in an ecosystem?

5) Insert the two diagrams below into your notes

food chain hot_desert_.gif

6) What is meant by the term Food Chain

7) Define the following terms and give and example of each from the Desert Biome.

  • Primary Producer

  • Primary Consumer (Herbivore)

  • Secondary Consumer (Small Carnivore)

  • Tertiary Consumer (apex predator)

8) Why is the diagram above shaped like a pyramid?


9) What is a food web?


10) Do some research into the term ‘keystone species’ and see if you can find an example for a desert ecosystem.


Joshua Tree.jpg

BBC Nature Banner.PNG

Task 4:

Use the information above, your notes from the two video clips shown in class and pages 222-4 in your text book to answer the questions below.

1) Use examples to explain how has the vegetation adapted to survive with little rainfall?

2) Plants find it difficult to grow in the desert soil. Why are the soils in desert areas so poor?

3) State three ways in which animals have adapted to survive in the tropical desert ecosystem.

Exploiting the Desert:

California Rare Earth Mine.jpg
A Rare Earth Minerals Mine in the Mojave Desert, California.

Exploiting the Namib Desert:


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The Rössing Uranium Mine


Namib Desert Lodge.PNG

The Namib-Naukluft National Park

Use the links above and the information on pages 226–8 of your text book to develop a case study about the exploitation of the Namib Desert. You should include the following information. Use maps and photographs wherever possible.

  • The location of the Namib Desert.
  • Examples of the minerals which is mined there and their uses.
  • What is meant by the term opencast mining and an explanation of why it is destructive to the desert ecosystem.
  • Why tourists are attracted to the region.
  • How tourist activity damage the desert ecosystem.
  • What can be done to reduce the impact of tourism in areas like the Namib desert.

Extension: the Mojave Desert

Do some research into the Mojave Desert and see if you can answer the following questions.

a) In what different way is the Mojave Desert threatened by human use compared with Namibia?

b) What is the main limiting factor to an increase in this land use?

c) Name the main river that passes through the Mojave Desert.

Useful Links: