The Regional Impacts of Climate Change

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7.3.2. Ecosystems

7.3.2.1. Grasslands, Rangelands, Woodlands, and Deserts

Half of the region (see Table 7-1) is classified as arid land, much of which is true desert (i.e., extremely arid, as defined in IPCC 1996, WG II, Chapter 3). Another tenth of the region is classified as semi-arid rangeland, dominated by grasslands or shrublands. About 10% of the arid and semi-arid land is classified as having some soil constraints, indicating either that it shows significant soil degradation or that it is desertified (see Table 7-1). The region's major deserts and some of their characteristics are listed in Table 7-2, along with their classification (i.e., semi-arid, arid, or extremely arid, as defined in IPCC 1996, WG II, Chapter 3). For comparative purposes, deserts in adjoining regions (e.g., the Gobi desert from the Temperate Asia region) are included. Deserts are classified as cold deserts (e.g., upland deserts of Middle Asia that are 1,200 m above sea level) or hot deserts (e.g., those in the Middle East). The seasonality of the deserts' rainfall varies; some receive predominantly winter rain, whereas others receive mostly summer rain. Deserts with very sporadic rain events are classified as aseasonal.


Table 7-2: Geophysical characteristics of deserts in the Middle East and Arid Asia region.

Desert (Country)
Aridity
Main Rainy Season
Temperature of Coldest Month/ Absolute Min (C)
Temperature of Warmest Month/ Absolute Max (C)
Latitude
Elevation (m)
Precipitation (mm/yr)
Area (000s km2)

Arabian Desert
Extreme Arid/
Aseasonal
0-10/10-20/
20-0/>30
15-31N
0-1,200
25-150
800
(includes Rub al Khali and Nafud)
Arid/Semi-Arid
Winter
20-30
 
Iranian Desert
Extreme Arid
Winter
0-10/-10
20-30/+45
27-36N
200-800
50-100
135
(includes Dasht-i-Margo, Dasht-e-Naomid, Dasht-e-Kavir, Dasht-e-Lut)
Semi-Arid/Arid
 
Negev (Israel)
Arid
Winter
10-20
20-30/>30
 
Syria, Iraq, N. Arabian, Jordanian Deserts
Arid
Winter
0-10/-11
20-0/+470
31-37N
200-800
100-150
 
Registan (Afghanistan)
Extreme Arid
Winter
/-19
/+42
29-32N
500-1,500
50-100
40
 
Middle Asia (1) and Kazakstan
Garagum
Extreme Arid/Arid
Biseasonal/Spring
-5-10/-35
+27 +30/+ 50
37-42N
100-500
70-100
350
Ustjurt and Mangyshlak
Arid/Semi-Arid
Biseasonal/Spring
-5-10/-40
+26+28/+42
42-45N
200-300
80-150
200
Qizilkum
Extreme Arid/ Arid/Semi-Arid
Biseasonal/ Spring
-4-8/-32
+28+30/+45
42-44N
50-300
70-180
300
Priaralski Garagum
Arid
Biseasonal/Spring
-11-14/-42
+26+28/+42
46-48N
400
130-200
35
Betpaqdala
Arid
Biseasonal/Spring
-12-13/-38
+26+28/+43
44-46N
300-350
100-150
75
Mujunkum
Arid/Semi-Arid
Biseasonal
-2-3/-45
+24+28/+40
43-44N
100-660
170-300
40
Moinkum
Semi-Arid
Biseasonal/Spring
-7-11
+25+27
43-45N
300-700
250-300
80
Saryesik-Atyrau
Arid
Biseasonal
-14-15
+23+25
45-46N
300-500
150-200
Bolshie and Malye Barsuki
Arid
Biseasonal/Spring
-12-15
+25+27
46-48N
100-200
150-200
40
Naryn-Peski
Semi-Arid
Biseasonal
-9-12
+23+25
46-50N
0-50
250
200
 
Others Adjacent to the Region
Gobi (China, Mongolia) (2)
Semi-Arid/Extreme Arid
Biseasonal
/-40
/+45
42-47N
900-1,200
50-200
1050
Ordos (China, Mongolia)
Arid/Semi-Arid
Summer
/-21
/+42
38-40N
1,100-1,500
150-300
95
Sinai (Egypt)
Extreme Arid/Arid
Aseasonal
10-20
20-30
Takla Makan (China) (2)
Semi-Arid/Extreme Arid
Biseasonal
-10-20 /-27
/+37
36-43N
800-1,500
50-75
271
Thar (India, Pakistan) (2)
Arid/Semi-Arid
Summer/Aseasonal
10-20/-1
>30/+48
24-31N
0-800
150-500
300
Thal (Pakistan)
Arid
Summer
/-2
/+49
30-32N
100-200
50-200
26

Sources: McGinnies et al., 1968; Wilson, 1976; Walter et al., 1983; Evenari et al., 1985; Babaev et al., 1986.

(1) Includes FSU.
(2) Not in this region.

 

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