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Mid-Latitude Steppe and Desert Climate

Last updated date: 26th Feb 2024
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What is Mid Latitude Steppe?

The mid-latitude region is located roughly between 30 degrees and 60 degrees north or south of the equator. Steppe is usually a semi-arid area with rough grassland that receives less rainfall. Mid-latitude steppes lie in the outer regions of mid-latitude deserts. Unlike the desert, the mid-latitude steppe has little vegetation. The precipitation and humidity levels in regions of the mid-latitude steppe are extremely low. There is no or rare vegetation in mid-latitude deserts.


Synonyms of Steppe

Some of the popular synonyms of the steppe are pampas, savanna, pasture, meadow, etc.


What are Mid-Latitude Areas?

Mid-latitude areas are specific locations on the earth, situated particularly from 23°26'22 to 66°33'39 north and south of the equator.


Characteristics of Mid Latitude Steppe Climate

  1. Usually, the mid-latitude steppe region in Asia, North America, and South America is found on the leeward side of the mountain range. A mountain range’s leeward side receives low precipitation, and this region also lacks moisture content in the air. These conditions create the ideal mid-latitude steppe climate. Low moisture and low rainfall are the primary characteristics of mid-latitude steppes.

  2. The temperature in the mid-latitude steppe region depends on the elevation, latitude, and distance between land and water. As we go away from the equator, the temperature keeps on decreasing, whereas the temperature increases while moving towards the equator. In the case of elevation, the steppes found on higher elevations have a higher temperature, and steppes located on lower elevations will have a lower temperature.

  3. The temperature usually falls between -40 degrees in winter to 40 degrees in the summer months.

  4. As discussed earlier, the mid-latitude steppe is a semi-arid region which means that the amount of rainfall in this area is low, typically between 100 mm to 300 mm in a year.

  5. Another vital thing to be noted is that if the mid-latitude steppe is closer to the tropical area, the humidity will influence the steppe’s climate. In that case, the duration of summer will be extended. Also, the presence of more humidity in the air will lead to more rainfall.

  6. On the other hand, if the mid-latitude steppe region is near the coastal area, it will influence precipitation. The moisture-carrying wind from the sea will contribute to a more significant amount of rainfall in such a steppe. 


Example of Mid-Latitude Steppe

Some of the examples of mid-latitude steppe include- The Prairies in North America, Kansas in the US, the Great Steppe in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the steppe in the eastern part of southern Andes.


What is a Mid-latitude Desert?

The mid-latitude desert is an excessively dry region with an arid climate located between 30 degrees and 60 degrees north and south of the equator. The placement of these deserts is found in the interior parts of the continents. The precipitation and humidity levels in these regions are extremely low. There is no or rare vegetation in mid-latitude deserts.


Characteristics of Mid-Latitude Desert Climate

  1. A stark seasonal contrast in temperature can be observed in the mid-latitude deserts. In the hot summer of July, the temperature increases up to 20 degrees celsius and decreases to -27 degrees celsius in the harsh winter of January.

  2. The summer temperature in mid-latitude deserts is not very hot due to its location in the temperate zone, which is cooler than the tropical zone. 

  3. As these deserts are found in the inner regions of the continent far from the sea, they have low moisture content in the air. Therefore, the humidity level in these areas is significantly low as well.

  4. Usually, mid-latitude deserts lie in the rain-shadow area of a mountain range that does not receive adequate rainfall.

  5. The mid-latitude deserts are found in the temperate zone, which is relatively cooler than tropical and subtropical areas. Therefore, high atmospheric pressure and low moisture exist in these deserts, which are the main factors responsible for low precipitation.

  6. Located in the far interior regions of the continents, these deserts are distant from water bodies and seas, which are the chief sources of moisture.


Examples of Mid-Latitude Desert

Some of the mid-latitude deserts that are found in the northern hemisphere include -

  1. Gobi desert, Taklamakan desert, Greater Barsuki desert, Aral Karakum desert, Kyzylkum desert, Aralkum desert, and Ustyurt desert in Asia.

  2. Great Basin desert and Mojave desert in North America. 


One of the notable examples of mid-latitude desert in the southern hemisphere is Patagonia in South America.


Difference Between Steppe And Desert Climates

A Desert climate holds less moisture in the air compared to the semi-arid steppe. The steppe region is usually covered with grass, whereas deserts are covered with sand and scattered cactus plants. Below are some of the main differences between steppes and deserts. 

  • Deserts do not receive much rainfall as compared to steppes. 

  • A desert is a home to some well-adapted and unusual plants whereas steppes have long grass and scrubs. 

  • The steppe region is mostly covered with grass and scrubs while the desert region has sand and cactus plants scattered across the entire area. 

  • Since steppes are semi-arid regions, they have fewer moisture deficits as compared to deserts.



Now that you know the characteristics and meanings of mid-latitude steppes and desert climates, you can easily tell the difference between these regions. Make sure to go through the features and examples of both steppes and deserts to get a better understanding of these regions. 

One of the characteristics of mid-latitude steppes is that they are found in the Leeward Side of the mountain ranges in Asia, South America, and North America. On the other hand, deserts are found in the inner regions of the continent away from the sea. This is one of the major features that make mid-latitude steppes' climate different from the desert climate. 

FAQs on Mid-Latitude Steppe and Desert Climate

1. What Factors Contribute to the Existence of Middle-Latitude Deserts and Steppes?

The middle latitude deserts and steppes are inland basins that are located far from the sea. The temperate region is also surrounded by tall mountains which block the winds that cause rain. It causes very little rain in the summer and rainy seasons. During winter little snowfall can be seen. Due to the climatic condition, the middle latitude deserts and steppes exist.

2. Why are there no Trees on the Steppe?

Very little to no trees are there in the steppe. The region lies in between the tropical and polar regions. In this region, a temperate climate can be observed. Due to this climate, the weather here becomes semi-arid. Every single year this part of the world receives only 25 to 50 centimeters of rain. This is the reason why no large trees grow in the steppe as there is a lack of water that plants require to grow. Only small grasses grow in some parts of the steppe. If an oasis is present, then date palms grow around that.   

3. What is the difference between steppe and desert climate? 

The key difference between steppe and desert climate is that the climate in a desert has lesser moisture in the air as compared to that in a steppe. The steppe regions are covered with grass, whereas deserts only contain sand and cactus plants scattered all around the area. Steppes occur between tropics and polar regions and have seasonal temperature changes. Since steppes are semi-arid, there is at least 20-25 centimeters of rainfall every year. On the other hand, deserts have a much warmer climate with little to no rainfall. 

4. Explain the climate conditions in steppes.

Since steppes have little maritime influence, the climate conditions in these regions are quite extreme. In summers, steppes usually have a 66-degree Fahrenheit temperature, which is very warm. Winters are much colder in these areas with a temperature below -4 degrees Fahrenheit. As for the precipitation in the steppe region, there is an average rainfall of about 20 inches every year. Most of the colder months in these areas only have about an inch of rainfall. Also, most of the time steppes do not see even a little bit of rain during June, July, and August. That is why the chances of drought in the steppe region in these months are much higher as compared to other months.