Dry climates are usually found in the subtropics. Subtropical areas are located at about 20° to 35° north and south latitude. These climates receive very low levels of rainfall. Thus, the defining trait of this climate is its arid nature.
Photo: the desert (Creative Commons: Gerben van Heijningen).
The dry climates are located in the subtropical zone. They are regions of low rainfall. The pattern of low rainfall is caused mostly by a belt of high air pressure in the subtropics. High air pressure areas are associated with clear skies and little rainfall. Dry climates may also be caused when moist air is blocked by high mountains.
Depending on the amount of rain that falls, two types of plant communities are found. These are the desert and steppe.
Desert climates may range from hot to cold. The hot desert climate has temperatures above the freezing point of water. On the other hand, the cold desert climate experiences a few months with below freezing temperatures.
The dry subtropical high pressure zone is responsible for deserts in Africa and Australia. The effect of mountains blocking moist air is responsible for the cold desert climates of Central Asia and South America.
Due to low rainfall, some desert areas have no vegetation. In other areas, plants that adapted to dry conditions may be found. Xerophytes are plants that can live in arid regions.
Photo: the steppes (Creative Commons: Michael Chu).
The steppe climates have a wet and a dry season. The wet season allows vegetation to develop. The typical vegetation associated with the steppe climate is a grassland.
Steppe climates are usually found in more mid-latitude locations. They are often a transition zone between dry deserts and more moist climates.
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Dry Climate, Maps of the World.