The Patagonian Desert

Deserts have a reputation for being hot, but which of the following deserts is relatively cold, with an average temperature close to freezing?

Considering the Mojave, Arabian, Sonoran, and Patagonian, the answer is: the Patagonian Desert.

Located in southern Argentina and part of Chile, the Patagonian Desert has an annual average temperature of around 3 degrees Celsius. It's bounded by the Andes Mountains to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

Unlike the typically-associated image of a sandy, hot desert, the Patagonian Desert's cold temperatures create a distinctly different type of barren environment. The Andes from the west inhibit moisture in the area which creates a phenomenon called a "rain shadow", whereas the mass from the mountains blocks weather and wind to leave the surrounding area dry. This is why, despite approximately half of the desert being only about 200 miles from the ocean, such a large desert is found in the region.

The land is generally too hostile for animal life, so aside from small birds and mammals the life found in this region comes primarily in the form of short shrubs and bushes that span across the plains. However, despite the low human population, the delicate balance of life on the desert has been threatened in recent years. The fragile ecosystem has been faced with erosion and other environmental factors, as sheep have been introduced to graze in surrounding regions. As a popular spot for ecologists and other scientific researchers, conservation efforts have become paramount for the years to come.

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